May 2011

Keep Those Kids Glued to Their Seats!

All I can keep asking is what’s next, animated lessons to keep kids sitting, open-mouthed and vacant-eyed in class?

A new initiative by the Obama administration is one that is so distressing—and so ironically opposite his wife’s fitness initiatives—that I have to wonder if the administration even likes children. If this operation is any indication, the answer must surely be no.

Imagining a Nationally Privatized School System

What High Education Reveals About Privatization.

     Let's imagine a world in which many business leaders, politicians, and conservatives got their wish: the $900 billion indusry that is the publicly funded school system is privatized and now kids attend schools where they pay tuition. Those families that own a home will, we can assume, no longer be paying property taxes, since that's form where the primary source of revenue for schools comes. More likely, politicians would revamp the tax system so that property taxes were still collected, but the tax burden was equalized more so that everyone, even non-homeowners, are taxed less (on average, if everyone shares the burden, and dependent on the state, people will save under a thousand).

     That's the good news.

You Want the Bus Driver to Put His Hands Where?

Years ago I let my daughter enroll in the early childhood program in our school district. Though she didn’t technically qualify, her occupational and physical therapists advised me that it was the best scenario and I thought I was being responsible. She was three, and I now consider it one of the worst mistakes I’ve made as a parent. It divided us up, wreaked havoc on our daily rhythm, and resulted in regression in my daughter. I wish I could take those two years back, but I can’t.

Ruminations on Fashion and the Middle-School Mind

The only explanation could be an undeveloped frontal lobe...

      There has never been a more appropriately named shoe than an Ugg.

      Sagging was one thing...sagging skinny jeans is walking around like you've crapped yourself.

      Wearing only one arm through a sweatshirt presents a choking hazard...or an opportunity.

      Too-small soccer shorts have replaced too-big pajama pants as spring has replaced winter.

      The side-ponytail, glitter makeup, and hundreds of dangly bracelets on each arm are not new ideas. Welcome back 80's.

      The Wanna-Biebers have arrived, their hair swooped to one side, but vehemently deny liking Bieber. Odd.

Teacher Hero: Ruth Michaud

Lessons in English, Effort, and Life

     I think most teachers get into the profession precisely because they have a few of these; a teacher that taught a valuable lesson, showed interst or support when others wouldn't, and maintained a relationship that their students couldn't get anywhere else. Ruth Michaud (pronounced Mih-show) was that teacher for me. She was my 9th grade English teacher, and was one of the strongest people I've met and left the strongest imprint on my young mind.

Teacher Hero: Karen Wright

Here at School Fest, I’d like to start up a project where we recall the teachers who really went the distance to help us along our individual journeys. You know the ones I’m talking about—the teachers who still bring tears to your eyes when you think of what they meant to you, how they treated you (perhaps even better than your caregivers at times), how they believed in you. I’d like to call this series Teacher Heroes.

Teacher Terror: Mrs. X

While most of us have at least one or two teacher heroes in our past whom we’d love to honor and remember for all time, the opposite is unfortunately also true. To share our educational horror stories—and perhaps help one another heal from them—I propose we post about our Teacher Terrors here at School Fest. For my own Teacher Terror stories, I have opted to use fake names, as I don’t want to harm anyone’s reputation, and I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings—although both of these things have been done to me by teachers in various circumstances.

Music Education programs have to prove they are worthwhile


I wanted to be a music educator in college for a few years.  That is, until I realized how tough this job is.  Although standardizing is not the answer, it was difficult thinking about how to design a curriculum for music students at completely different levels—and with completely different musical vocabularies. Oftentimes, like in other subjects, music programs can be considered good or bad based on the level of the students, but unlike other subjects, a music program’s worth is determined on a subjective, performance based set of criteria.  In other words, if little Suzie blows her role in Annie, your program might be cut.

May Madness

End-of-the-year insanity in a middle school.

     Many of you are familiar with the NCAA College Basketball's March Madness; brackets, bets, and seeds. That's all fine and good, but it's not really madness. Madness is characterized by a complete departure from reality. For that you may need to look somewhere closer to home, like say, schools. Particularly, middle schools and junior highs.