Category Archives: Sports

Tiger Woods and the State Test

You know, I tire of the commentators’ beef with Tiger Woods not winning every tournament he enters. Sometimes people just have a bad day or a bad few days. I think about this with a few of the students I would expect to easily pass the state test, and then they just have a bad day. It happens.

Tiger Woods just barely missing a few putts at the U.S. Open is like the kid who misses a couple points here and there and those putts and points add up. Bad days occur; they just do.

Of course, at the other end of the spectrum we have David Duvall who made more money in the U.S. Open this weekend than he has the last four years on the PGA Tour. I’ve had kids who haven’t passed a thing all year and then pass the state test. Sometimes good days happen, too.

The first baseball game in high school I ever played I had three doubles and a walk. Then I went 0 for everything the next two weeks. That’s how I got my nickname “O-fer” because each day my box score read “0 for 3” or “0 for 4” and so on. This is also how I became a pitcher instead of a fielder and hitter. But again, good days happen.

My point with this, which I have very slowly lead this post to, really is that I feel for the kids who barely miss a passing score on the state test and those who should’ve passed it and didn’t. My school–with no consideration of just a bad test day–forces students to take a reading and writing class for students who failed the state test (if those sections were not passed) or a remedial math class (if that section was failed). No questions. No exceptions. That’s it.

I guess I don’t like high stakes testing in the first place, but I also don’t like the idea that some kids are pigeon-holed based on a single measure. Maybe I’m just a case by case kinda guy.

Oh, and I bet you that Tiger comes storming back to win a few titles very soon. (He almost came back this weekend despite such a bad start to his tournament.)

It’s About Time

Washington State’s high school boys basketball games will now have a shot clock! This is absolutely fantastic. The only hold-outs on this issue seem to be the previous generation which grew up without the shot clock. Today’s generation has only known the shot clock era of the pros and the colleges.

Finally, no more 3-4 minute stalls when a lesser team is ahead by two or four points. No more falling asleep in the stands. No more 33-29 scores. What ever will a few of our rivals do now?

Sports or Books?

In this era of cost-saving measures, what should we cut or reduce? Some say high school sports should be cut while others say college campus staff members should be given the axe. There are a range of ideas, but what is the right area to cut back?

Stream of consciousness alert!

I tend to advocate for program cuts first. What are the “nice to haves” versus the “must haves”? And there are no easy answers.

If a program requires extra people primarily for bureaucratic reasons, I say cut it. We have programs like the Medicaid Match program where teachers record how much class time and duty time is devoted to helping students with health or counseling issues, and then these recording sheets are given to a clerk who specifically has to document, verify, and refer the records to another level of scrutiny. Relatively little money is generated per school for this program, maybe $1.25 per student (which my school uses to run detention halls, which are not very effective but is a whole other post).

We also have programs which duplicate the services of other programs. The same pool of students is double or triple served. This type of cost can be eliminated quickly or altered to help more students. Since most students cannot be in more than one program at a time, we have numerous programs with multiple open slots and no one to fill them.

We might converse about the feasibility of a student-driven schedule. Should we allow students to choose their classes, or should we ask for preferences and fill the classes we decide to offer using the preference lists as a guide only? Do we keep programs that serve a sliver of the population while other programs are overcrowded? Do we offer sparsely filled classes just to say we have a wide variety of offerings?

My school also has clubs with paid advisors who only have 4-5 club members, yet these clubs have the same stipend as clubs with up to 50 members. Is this a good use of student body funds? Should popularity play any role in the cost or allotment of an activity?

Should students who fail a core course automatically be enrolled in a cheaper online version rather than be in a regular classroom setting? Would it be cheaper only in the short-term? Should summer school be mandatory? I know my district pays relatively little to summer school instructors even though the workload is similar to that of the normal school year.

I’m just rambling some ideas off the top of my head, but I’m wondering what will drive the decision-making processes used to determine what stay and what goes. It could be scary.

Recruits in Diapers Next?

Would it bother you to know that the student in your 7th grade classroom can be recruited by NCAA coaches? Well, they can be. That’s the ruling by the NCAA. Since coaches kept doing it anyway, it’s now legal.

At least the schools can’t buy them cars! Maybe a Wii, or an iPod, or a Big Wheel, but no cars. 🙂

Shouldn’t Be In That Position

As I watched the highlights of the Sunday NFL games, one coach was asked about his team’s one-point loss. He replied, “We shouldn’t have been in that position” and said that the final drive of the game for the opponent did not decide the game. He noted that the team bungled numerous opportunities throughout the game and that no game should come down to the final play.

This is exactly how I feel about the end of each semester; one assignment (i.e. the final) should not determine a student’s success or failure.

I know, however, I will have 5-6 students whose passage in a course will be decided by the final. Of course, the odds would seem to indicate that at least one student won’t make it as well. The parents will beg for extra credit or something else, but I always hold firm; no extra assignments and no retakes on the final. After 18 weeks, a student is ready or is not. If a student can’t pass the final, I don’t want to hear anything.

This would seem to go against my allowing students to retake tests belief, but it really does not. Other tests are the first summative assessment after numerous practices. The final is all review material, so the students will see no surprises. All of the material has been seen before. Plus, my finals are always objective. No excuses, especially when (in reality) the final did not determine the student’s success.

Anyone else feel this way?

The Apple Cup

Tomorrow is the Apple Cup, though I believe a better moniker would be the Crapple Cup, the Sour Apple Bowl, or even the Toilet Bowl. The two worst teams in college football, the Washington Huskies and the Washington State Cougars, face one another in what could quite an ugly game. I’m having friends over for the game, and here are a few jokes I will use to razz my die-hard buddies (especially since I attended neither school):

  • How are the Cougars like Billy Graham? Answer: Both can make 50,000 people rise and scream “Jesus Christ!”
  • Where do you go in Seattle in case of a hurricane? Answer: Husky Stadium: they’ve never had a touchdown.
  • How do you keep a Cougar out of your yard? Answer: Put goal posts in it.
  • What’s the difference between the Huskies and a dollar bill? Answer: You can get four quarters from the dollar.

Have a great Saturday, and I’ll be back with some education thoughts on Sunday.

Mike Singletary is the New Teacher

Discipline may be the most difficult aspect of a new teacher’s career, and every prospective instructor has a unique approach. Some are task masters, others are domineering, while others remain passive, and more styles are out there.

Mike Singletary, the new coach of the San Francisco 49ers, is learning what type of splash to make as the newly appointed head coach. He decided to be tough and in your face. After benching TE Vernon Davis, Singletary did not think Davis took the tongue-lashing to heart and sent him to the locker room. Later he said in a post-game interview regarding Davis, “I told him that he would do a better job for us right now taking a shower and coming back and watching the game than going out on the field.” Continue reading