Saturday, February 28, 2009 techs!

Tonight we had SOMETHING on our computer that continued to say we had all these awful viruses and Trojans programs. It wouldn't let you go onto websites, email, or anything. And the only way to get out of it appeared to be to pay them BUCKS! I messed with the control panel to see if I couldn't remove it, but it wasn't on the control panel. I decided I needed help.

I called Symantec because I have Norton as my virus protector, and they said they could help me if I couldn't find this virus. They knew exactly what it was. So, I paid them a fee and they gave me numbers to enter and they had control of my computer on a remote basis. Pretty scary in a way! On the otherhand, what a gift. The tech found the virus with a few different clicks. He seemed to be searching a couple different places, and then he got rid of it. He made it look way too easy.

So, my computer seems fixed, and I'm thinking that the world certainly has changed. In the old days I would have had to lug in the dang thing and gotten it back in two weeks if I was lucky. I talked to two technicians and they both had very thick accents. I believe they were Indian. I wonder if they were in India; usually I ask, but I didn't tonight. It makes me think of the economy in Michigan and jobs for the future generations. What will there be for them to do and where will it be? As a middle school teacher you want kids to be prepared, but is there more we should be doing? As I struggle to get them to read and write better, I hope they take their education seriously. I doubt there will be jobs that won't require good reading and writing skills.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What I'm hearing

I've been running around the my car....delivering my final yellow card to teacher mailboxes. I've had a chance to meet many people along the way. What I am hearing is that teachers want to be heard, they want to hear, and they want to be treated fairly. I think that's exactly what all teachers need and want....employees need and want......human beings need and want. We want people to know what we are doing and to listen to us when we talk. People also want to get information as well. Getting out information to the membership so everyone gets the same message and all of the news is something people need and want. Thirdly, people want what's fair and to be treated fairly. I guess the question should be, who wouldn't want to be treated fairly? Who wouldn't want what is fair?

This will be an important job to get done if I am elected president, but it certainly is exactly what I want and need as an educator myself.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Back to School After Break

Back to school today after the winter break. The kids were happy to be back, and it was good to see them. REALLY! It's funny, I love to teach and be with kids. My first hour advanced English group is the only group I am teaching now because I've turned over my other hours to my student teacher. We just finished the poetry unit and we are beginning research! I am teaching them true research (in my opinion) and we are doing it with internet sources, but they have to keep note cards. I do this because I don't want them copying and pasting information into a document. I suppose we could keep electronic cards of some sort, but then they would be copying and pasting to those. I am really trying to have them get used to reading information, picking out the most important "stuff", and then summarizing it in their own words. Old fashioned? Maybe. Necessary? I still think so, but I would be willing to investigate other venues as long as they were summarizing and restating info in their own words.

We teachers, are always looking for new ways.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Animal Advocacy

So, today I'm going to break away from my discussion of education and pursue my other passion.....animal rights. Specifically, the "kill" policies of many groups who pretend to be animal right activists. I am specifically speaking of the Humane Society of the United States. I will NEVER, EVER EVER again give them one cent of my money.

The situation? A dog fighting/pit bull fighting breeder was arrested in Wilkes County, North Carolina in December. His arrest followed an investigation by the HSUS. The Wilkes County authorities took over 120 dogs into their care. Since the December date, 15 to 20 puppies were born to the already existing puppy population in the breeding group. The plight of these "rescued dogs" apparently was a very contradictory issue, and it eventually ended up in court. The judge ruled that ALL of the dogs were to be "Euthanized"......killed. The Humane Society of the United States recommended this as well because of their policy about fighting dogs. Within 24 hours all of these dogs were killed.

How any HUMAN could consent to kill over 130 dogs and puppies is beyond anything I can imagine. It is particularly disturbing when rescue groups with such elite reputations, such as Best Friends (a HUGE rescue group in Utah....they have the show "Dog Town" on the National Geographic Channel), had tried to contact the people in charge, to arrange for the dogs to be taken in by TRUE RESCUE GROUPS and earn their "pet certificates" (After the trial, the Wilkes County authorities claim they never heard from Best Friends. The judge got three calls in January alone, but never returned the calls!). I believe the Humane Society of United States does not fit the image they wish to portray when they encourage the killing of 135 dogs. They are nothing but a kill group. Puppies born after the seizure were also killed. How could they be deemed dangerous? I believe people will be judged by their humaneness toward other species. The state of North Carolina and HSUS has failed that test of humaneness.

If you would like to read more, here are several sights to go to:

If you would like to sign an electronic petition:

Here's the site for the head CEO of the HSUS.....very interesting....grrrrrrr. It makes you think he's a good guy:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Reading the Contract Outloud Together

Today I spent some time at the MEA Uniserve Office reading the contract outloud together with Cyndi Austin, while Chriss was reading another part with Katie, the secretary. It's the way we were proofreading the contract to be sure everything was as it should be. Actually, it cracked me up a little....reading outloud together.......kind of teacherly, don't you think? It also was a good review of the contract language. There's so much of it, and it was interesting to go back through it. It's like anything you read, some parts "stick out" more than others depending on what you've been dealing with in life.

I was also very interested that I could read outloud and comprehend at the same time. Sometimes reading outloud together in class gets a bad rap, and I know reading silently is important, but my 7th graders love to hear me read outloud. Of course, I get a little dramatic sometimes, which they enjoy. I work to get kids to read with a bit more inflection and "feeling". My Advanced English kids have been reading their poetry outloud in class, and they rush through it so quickly and mumble so WELL, that I can't even understand what they're talking about. I'm going to have to look more into that.

Monday, February 16, 2009

More Jennifer and More Newspaper Stuff

The Livingston County Press published my letter to the editor on Sunday. It was right next to a letter Iris Salters and Kuipers (a republican from the west side of the state) wrote regarding the proposed retirement plan. I expected to catch a lot of "stuff" (that's not the word I would usually use) online in response to that post, but the responses there were actually supportive of teachers and of the post! Amazing in Livingston County. Maybe they were teachers. I think teachers should speak out more, but I suppose there's a fear that speaking out will draw fire. Oh well. That can be fun too!

Jennifer Granholm proposed a $59 cut per student for next year. The stimulus plan came out the next day, so I'm hoping that $59 cut will go away.

This morning in the Free Press there was an article about teachers getting merit pay. They quoted people from 3 schools in the state that have some form of merit pay already. It sounded like the money is tied to the school making "Adequate Yearly Progress" in at least two of those school districts. I find this proposal a little scarey. Not because I don't believe in my teaching abilities, but because I know how many things affect a student's learning that are totally OUTSIDE of my control. I also know that a lot of strategies that would help students WILL NOT be paid for by our cash strapped school districts. I find this particularly worrisome because President Obama's Education "czar" is from Chicago where they have used merit pay. I guess we'll see!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Stimulus Package

I can not believe the Republican congressmen are trying to sell to Americans that the stimulus package will ruin the economy.....HELLO......who was president when all this "stuff" happened?

Speaking of "stuff" happening, Governor Granholm is putting forth a budget proposal today that cuts over $1 billion dollars. The papers are saying that education is one of her top priorities, but this is going to be tough when she is looking to cut such a huge amount. I would love for her budget to preserve current funding for the schools, and a stimulus from the federal government would help, particular if it helps fund Medicare.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Awesome Workmates

Yesterday I was talking to Peggy about my presidential candidacy flyers and how I wanted to deliver them to schools. Peggy immediately told me that people wanted to help me and I should let them. By this morning she had a whole list of people who had volunteered to go to different schools and distribute my flyers.

First, I was so touched, awed, and thankful for Peggy's success in getting a group of volunteers together so quickly. Secondly, I was so totally awed at how happy people were to help out.

If they are reading this, I want them to know how thankful I am and how awesome the staff at Geisler really is!

More Newspaper and MESSA stuff

Speaking of newspaper stuff. This morning's Livingston County Press had an editorial bashing teachers, their unions, and school districts for not trying to control insurance costs. This came almost directly after two specific contract settlements in Livingston County. First, Pinckney Teachers settled their contract and moved BACK to MESSA, saving the district $332,000. A bargaining group of support people just settled a contract in Hartland and moved to a less costly MESSA plan, also saving the district money.

The timing of the editorial really doesn't make sense to me, except my humble opinion...the criticism of MESSA and teacher health care has nothing to do with COST. I believe it is an attack on teacher and support staff unions. Ever since Engler was the governor it seems we've been under attack. Republicans who have followed in Engler's footsteps have also been after the teacher unions and the health care. Here is where I believe Lansing lobbyists come in. I would bet that the insurance industry lobbyists have spent major dollars to get a law like PA 106 passed. That provides access to MESSA insurance experience information, and in turn allows the insurance companies to give quotes for teacher and support staff insurance. The whole move is to get what the insurance companies view as a lucrative insurance market and thus more $$$. So, now these "other" companies come in, as they did in Pinckney, low bid their product, but later raise rates more than MESSA ever has (Pinckney's "other" company raised rates by 35%).

So, I wrote a letter to the Livingston County Press. We'll see if they publish it.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Rapid Response Team

Another kind of blogging or writing that I've been doing is through the MEA's Rapid Response Team. There are a number of us on the "team", nobody knows who exactly (except Doug Pratt at the MEA), and when there are articles or editorials in the newspapers regarding education and/or the MEA, I might hear from the MEA and be asked to write a letter to the editor.

The MEA also did a "webinar" training this past summer on writing letters and blogs. That was pretty neat and the first time I've done one of those. Basically you sign on at a specific time and I also called them on the phone, and somehow we are all hooked together. So, we watched a power point on the computer as they talked. We even did questions and answer with the whole group. While it was certainly neat to not have to drive to Lansing, and I could sit at my computer barefoot, I missed seeing faces. I guess I just like to see who's talking. I have decided that I am a very visual person. I judge people's faces and moods all the time while they are talking. I like that feeling of connection with the speaker, and I do that by watching their face, their smile, etc. Not seeing the person takes something away from it for me. Now is that a good thing, or is that a disability? I do think it tells me that I would do best in a classroom and not doing a computer course. We'll see.

My First Entry - My Beginnings with Blogging

I decided to try a that I'm running for President of the WLEA. Partly because, if elected President, I want to make this part of what I do to keep the membership informed. I find it amazing how much time I spend on line...just reading STUFF. All kinds of stuff that includes newspapers from Denver, Boulder, Detroit, Albuquerque, and even Wisconsin.

I have particularly enjoyed a blog that is written by the author, Jon Katz. He wrote books about dogs that he got after he moved to a farm in Upstate New York. Actually, he bought the farm after his first border collie, who needed to have a job, which Katz determined to be sheep herding. Boy, I wish I could acquire a state park so my dog could walk there any time he wanted. Anyway, Katz named his farm BEDLAM FARMS. The guy, in truth, infuriates me because he doesn't want to attribute too many human characteristics to animals, and me, I do it ALL the time.

The other type of blogging I've enjoyed is in response to newspaper articles. The Boulder paper, The Daily Camera, is particular fun to read. It seems those bloggers have quite the sense of humor. A lot of the other blogs, particularly the Livingston County Press and the Detroit Free Press, can be downright nasty......are they still called flamers?