Category Archives: diversity

Response

I waited a couple days before commenting on my January 6 post, “Serious or Satire?”, but now I feel I should provide my opinion.

I think Foley must be seriously recommending the elimination of novels using negative terms about African-Americans. If his intent is satire, it’s entirely too subtle. Thus, I wholeheartedly disagree with his arguments. Continue reading

Equality?

Through I Thought A Think I read an excellent editorial explaining how Governor Gregoire’s slashes to levy equalization will harm poorer and potentially more diverse districts much more than wealthier districts.

In fact, Neal Kirby, the editorial’s author, explains how Aberdeen has:

a 2008 tax rate of $4.16 per 1,000 assessed valuation and raises $1,350 per student. Bellevue, with a tax rate of $0.88, raised $2,039 per student. Bellevue raised 50 percent more funds per student even though Aberdeen had a tax rate four times higher than Bellevue.

Losing district money can result in:

  • the loss of teachers,
  • the elimination of programs helping struggling students,
  • fewer support staff,
  • cuts to non-teaching certificated positions (counselors, librarians, instructional coaches, etc.),
  • higher class sizes, and
  • the loss of administrators.

Once again poorer and more needy districts would be harmed while wealthier and more successful districts would be just fine when uninformed decisions are made. I have heard from a few teachers that cuts to I-728 dollars or benefits would be more equitable. I just hope that the legislature really looks at the ramifications of levy equalization dollars being cut, and I especially hope that Eastern Washington representatives pay close attention to this issue.

What is an Acceptable Graduation Rate?

Since the 1970s some aspects of students and their lives are relatively unchanged according to a study by the Foundation for Child Development.

Reading abilities, graduation rates, and suicide rates have basically remained the same for teenagers since the 1970s. Also, math rates have risen despite the bad press math and science teachers continually receive.

To me, this speaks quite highly of the work teachers do since the social make-up of the classroom has altered dramatically. More special education students and ELL students are being taught in America’s classrooms meaning that challenges have increased without a reduction in achievement. Additionally, the internet and video games have increasingly competed with schools for time requiring teachers to change their methods. Continue reading

Creating Relevance in the Classroom

One aspect of teaching, which can be quite difficult, is how to make what we teach relevant to students today. Kids seem to think they cannot possibly connect the writings of yesteryear with the hectic, technological, global lives led today; however, creating relevance need not be too difficult.

I teach English and one of my favorite pieces to read (an excerpt anyway) with the kids is Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Not only do the students love the ideas of independence and questioning authority, but they also can quickly apply the principles to their daily lives or to pop culture.

One example right now which fits in quite nicely with Emerson’s teachings is the sports story centering on Brett Favre. I might give a quick rundown about how Brett Favre has decided he does not now want to remain retired and how he would like to return to the NFL as a starting quarterback. I could give a short article from a sports page as well, which wouldn’t be a bad idea, and then give the students this question: “How would Ralph Waldo Emerson feel about Brett Favre’s decision? Use lines from Self-Reliance to support your answer.” Continue reading

Two Novels of Race Relations

Two novels I taught this year were To Kill A Mockingbird and A Gathering of Old Men. Prior to and during reading these novels, I had the kids look at some songs, poems, and historical context. Here are a few of my favorite things concerning the race relations in the novels. Continue reading