Tuesday, May 29, 2007
There was also a wonderfully-written 'Ode to New Orleans' of sorts in today's Times-Picayune by gifted writer Chris Rose. Courtney and I have, as of late, thrown teaching a couple of years in New Orleans into the mix of things we'd be interested in doing post-Hawaii.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Five years later, those words echo as we've dug ourselves into a quagmire that has destroyed our reputation around the world, made our country exponentially more unsafe, and created a haven for Islamic extremists (in Iraq). It's tough to ignore the parallels to the Vietnam War that also began under the pretense of promoting democracy abroad, and ended in a senseless waste of money and human life.
Each evening, at the end of The News Hour on PBS, the program airs photos of soldiers recently killed in Iraq. Below the photo is the soldier's age and hometown. I'm not sure what saddens me most, seeing the 18 and 19-year-olds fresh out of high school, or the 35-year-olds who probably have three young kids at home waiting for their return. I think everyone who supported this disaster should sit through this photo roll each evening.
Watching this episode unfurl during the past five years has been at times unbelievable, and other times amazingly ironic. In a Christian society that each election cycle debates the value of human life with regard to abortion, we're so easily led into battle and are so quiet in the face of this enormous loss of human life. Equally ironic was tonight's report on The News Hour about proposed cuts to the SCHIP program that provides health insurance to America's least privileged children. Apparently we can't find the money to insure the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters, yet we supported a war that at this point has cost each American family $20,000.
This site compares the cost of the Iraq War to what we could do in healthcare and education with the same amount of money.
Initial White House cost estimates were $50 to $60 billion dollars. Some economists have now predicted that this war will end up costing $1 trillion.
I can try to find the bright spot in all of this and say that we'll learn from our mistakes and a transgression of this magnitude won't happen again. But there isn't a bright spot. As we've seen over and over again throughout history, nationalism and colonialist tendencies are no match for our feigned concern for human life.
Friday, May 25, 2007
"May 21, 2007
More than 300 days ago, I landed in
What I can quantify, however, are some of the ways that I’ve been able to impact my own students. I’d be remiss to say that I moved every one of my students the elusive two grade levels of growth, but I have collected my share of success stories.
Angelica, one of my smallest, shyest students, has made incredible gains in reading fluency and comprehension. She’s been able to recognize her own progress, and has seen how much her relentless hard work has paid off while moving from a fourth grade to a sixth grade reading level. Ka’au, who had a difficult last year, spending much of it in the principal’s office, has become a leader among his fourth-grade peers. And Jewel has steadily matured into a bright, compassionate young lady, all the while grappling with the disbelief that her father murdered someone in September.
The challenges that I’ve faced, and there have been many challenges, pale in comparison to some of the inherent challenges and roadblocks that my students face in Nanakuli. What I try to do every day is equip my students with the capacity to make the decisions that will steer them in their own direction in life. I recognize my shortcomings in accomplishing this, and will make many changes in the upcoming year; but I also recognize the modest differences that I’ve been able to make in my students’ lives, and I cherish that opportunity.
Thank you sincerely for your support of Teach For America."
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Unfortunately, we never really took a before shot of our bathroom before the remodel, so this is a picture of the second bath, which basically had the same layout and fixtures. The vanity light fixture was rusting, and the cabinetry was way outdated. The laminate flooring was a good color, but it just didn't add anything to the room.
Post demolition, installing cement board as a foundation for the ceramic tile. This whole process was brutal on my back and knees. So much so that I took a day off from school to recover.
The final product! After much sweat and bruised knees and knuckles, the project came together beautifully. The ceramic tile is a huge upgrade from laminate rug, and the deep color is refreshing. We're now working up enough stamina to tackle half of the other bathroom before heading home for summer break.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Friday, May 18, 2007
"I would go back to caveman time so I could ride dinosaurs!" - Ka'au
"But there weren't any cavemen when dinosaurs roamed the earth." - Mr. Landry
"Oh, well I'd still go back to caveman time." - Ka'au
"I would go to the future to see who I am going to marry." - Lyric
"I would go back to 2003. That was a happy time because my mom used to spend time with me and my sister." - Moani
"I would go back to when my grandma was still alive." - Tresslee
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) measures educational progress based on these tests, and fourth grade is a benchmark year. I was pretty nervous, and after my own attempt to gauge how my students did, I had plenty of reason to be. I don’t think they fared very well, despite the growth many of them have made. Unfortunately, schools don’t currently get credit for growth – so even if a fourth-grader moves from a first grade reading level to third grade, he/she still can’t hack the fourth grade test.
This is the only criticism I’ll lay on NCLB, as you can hear plenty of it from teachers, administrators and unions across the country. And, quite honestly, I’ve become a supporter of it in principle. The goals are unrealistic, and there are most definitely gaps in the framework, but the way it has brought at least minimal accountability to the classroom is a step in the right direction.
I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. If this experience is teaching me anything, it’s that the problems within our system are ridiculously complex and massive. Because of this, I’ve become wary of any quips and soundbites from critics or politicians – even critics of NCLB because the problems can’t be solved by any simple solutions.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation along with the Broad Foundation are aiming to put education at the forefront of the 2008 presidential discussion. As anyone who’s begun to follow this has already seen,