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Thank You Rachel Maddow and What’s Happening with Michigan?

  • Posted on April 22, 2012 at 3:21 pm

The Alien Take Over by Dana (Just click on this to see it larger.)

A lot can happen while you’re sleeping and going through the routine of everyday life so to speak.  If you haven’t been paying attention here in Michigan, much has been going on with politics and governing.  While the national focus was busy on Wisconsin, here in Michigan all manner of craziness has been taking place through the passing of legislation stealthily under an emergency provision.  The only national figure that has made much of a fuss about what is happening in Michigan seems to be Rachel Maddow.  For this I thank you Rachel.  I didn’t know about the over five hundred bills that have been passed with this emergency situation.  I knew about the emergency manager law that installs a little “dictator” in the place of people that have been voted into their positions, essentially denying voters their voted choice.  I did not know the manner in which the bulk of legislation has been passed this past year, through an emergency bill that doesn’t even take a roll call vote.  How 73 votes can be counted in a few seconds by a human being is beyond me.  Rachel has a video here that shows how this is being done.  I haven’t read about this in any local Michigan paper and I have been wondering why the Democrats have been so weak.  Well, now I know!  Please watch this video all the way through.  It is radical what is happening in my beloved state.  This is not democracy!

As a teacher here in Michigan, I feel like I have a target on my back.  It is all related to the fact that I am part of a teachers’ union more than anything else.  The Snyder government is swiftly doing whatever it can do to destroy any teacher union in Michigan by passing legislation that essentially disrupts the bargaining process.  The Republicans will say it is about money but it really is about the politics of it all.  They recently passed legislation that will not allow schools to deduct my union dues from my pay.  Now I have direct deposit and money is taken out for a lot of different things including United Way and the Sturgis Foundation.  It just doesn’t make any sense that my union dues couldn’t work the same way as the United Way.  This is just a way to make it more difficult for me as a teacher.  I will protest this and it may be through things like the United Way.  This legislation needs to be stopped.  As a teacher I haven’t been a part of a team that is just concerned about money and insurance.  Class size is an important issue.  It’s difficult to get around to students if you have a large class.  Our advanced math class has 37 students in it.  That is just too many students for one teacher to really get around to every student, no matter how great a teacher he/she is.  The issue of class size is basically a dead issue.  Nothing is going to happen to improve this situation with the current legislative body in Lansing.  I encourage everyone to please get involved and find out about these issues.

The pressure for teachers is very great right now.  They have to produce some kind of result based on a test students take.  If you think this is not going to have any kind of affect on your child, you must be kidding yourself.  Emotionally, your child might be feeling beat up by a system that tells him/her that they just aren’t good enough.  In other ways your child might be denied exploratory classes that might help him/her develop special talents.  This is a frustrating time for educators, but I think it is apt to be even more frustrating to the child that can’t seem to fit into the square peg when they might be more like a circle.  Just as we, as adults, aren’t all the same, children learn and develop at different rates as well.  In my seventh grade art class, I recently had a child create a comic strip called “The Alien Take Over”.  Just so you know, MEAP stands for the Michigan Educational Assessment Program….you know, THE TEST!  Now for the child that is brilliant, this may not have a big effect on him/her.  However, if your child gets stressed out easily, lacks self esteem, needs more time, or is a perfectionist, he/she just might get even more stressed out with what’s happening in education today when they just don’t quite “measure” up!  In the comic strip the student is abducted and taken to the MEAP.  I really wouldn’t want my child’s memories of school to be about some big test.  I remember one big test when I was in school and that was the SAT.  I certainly wouldn’t want that test to be the only thing I remembered in my K-12 experience.  I remember good and bad teachers the most.  I remember the kindness of my second grade teacher, Mrs. Smith, when she gave me a brief case to hold my books because we were moving.  Above all else that stands out in my mind.  I hope you can remember some teacher that made you feel special, not one that made you feel stupid because you failed to pass the MEAP.

By the way, Rachel Maddow, keep it up!  I appreciate all that you do to shine a light on what is happening in Michigan and for that, I thank you!

Disgusted Three Times Over

  • Posted on February 9, 2011 at 9:26 pm

I’ve been busy lately, but I’ve read a few things tonight and I just cannot get them out of my mind.  These are the three things that disgust me tonight.

Heating assistance for the poor?  Oh, don’t worry, you can always curl up with a good book under the covers and pray to God you don’t freeze to death when you can’t pay that fuel bill.  I would like all the “sane” people in Washington D.C. to please stand up and make sure this bright idea doesn’t happen.  As cold as it is today, you would have to be one insane son of a bitch to even consider cutting these people off.  It’s not like you’re cutting them off crack cocaine.  This is life or death.  In December President Obama and his new found Republican cronies had no problem giving tax cuts to the wealthy.  Now they’re in “cut” mode and who are they going to pick on?  They’ll pick on some poor family that has all they can do to keep their homes heated and their heads above water.

I remember a couple years ago here in Michigan when a man froze to death in Bay City.

To me this is unconscionable.  We can spend boat loads of money in Iraq and Afghanistan.  However, when it comes to the least among us here in the United States, we cannot seem to find two nickels to throw to the poor.

I guess this guy wasn’t in need of heating assistance.

The sad part is people voted for this joker.  Now they will have to spend more money on another election simply because he was more interested in playing these games than doing his job.

In other education news here in Michigan there may be changes to the MEAP and MME.  This is from the Detroit News;

The State Board of Education will consider a plan today to raise the passing scores on state standardized tests, a move that could mean thousands more students and hundreds more schools won’t meet proficiency levels.

From The Detroit News:

Now if more schools don’t pass proficiency levels than maybe they could be either taken over by the state or privatized.  Some lucky businessman could determine what’s best for your child based on his bottom line.  What’s the bottom line you say?  It’s his profit margin!

Ten Things I Won’t Miss About this October

  • Posted on October 29, 2010 at 4:56 pm

1)  I won’t miss anything about the

This is from a Bay City Times file picture!

M.E.A.P.  (Michigan Educational Assessment Program)  Since school started this year we have all been in M.E.A.P. mode.  This means we have a different schedule and homerooms where we work with students to help get them ready for the big test.  Now that the big test is over, we all have a regular schedule with our regular times for our classes.  I don’t even want to hear the word M.E.A.P. for awhile.  I’m glad I can now focus on teaching art and enjoying my students!


Mom and Dad's Tree, no more!

I will not be missing this crazy weather.  I woke up this morning to look on Facebook only to discover that my favorite tree was killed by strong winds.  Rest in peace beautiful tree of my youth.  I will miss that tree.  It was the first thing I would see when I would drive up north to see my parents.  Many things changed over the years but that beautiful tree was always there to greet me!  Mom and dad are both gone now.  My brothers have been remodeling the farm and now with the tree gone, it seems like everything I associated with my parents is completely gone except for their descendants, my memories and of course pictures!

3)      I won’t miss the crazy political ads.  I cannot remember a year when there were so many stupid, pointless political ads.  I especially hate this ad where this little girl is such a brat!  Why would anyone want to depict a child this way?  It seems abusive to me.  Tim Walberg Ad

4)      I won’t miss hearing any more pundits talking about Christine O’Donnell and witchcraft.  This video just shows that people do say a lot of different things over the course of their life and some of them are crazy!  However, most of us aren’t video taped saying crazy things.

5)      I won’t miss two, four hour night parent teacher conferences.  I will say that I think it was great and I wish I had seen more parents.  I saw nearly 60 student’s parents which is awesome!  However, sitting in the gym for four hours straight was very tiring!  It was difficult to squeeze in a bathroom break!  I’m thankful we have today off!

6)      I won’t miss hearing about “Sister Wives”.  I must admit I haven’t watched the show and have no desire to do so.  However, I have been hearing about it on shows and the Internet because it seems to have a lot of people talking.  It’s wrapping up its first season and I hope people stop talking about it!

Do you really want to know more about this man's sex life?

7)      I won’t miss the Tea Party people that go crazy at political rallies.  I like politics to a point but come on, there is never a reason to act like this.  I won’t miss any of this!

8)      I won’t miss the constant reporting about some poll that says how America is going to vote!  Sometimes it seems like they think we have already voted.  Tuesday cannot come fast enough for me!  Here is the latest “poll” on the governor’s race.

9)      I won’t miss the constant talk about Sarah Palin. Will she or won’t she run for president in 2012?  Hello, we haven’t even finished this election.  I don’t want to think about another election for a long time.

Sarah Palin, will she or won't she?

10)   I won’t miss this mean political season where politics seems to bring the worse out of most politicians.  Senator Lisa Murkowski actually said one of her opponents is “unfit” for the office.  Kendrick Meeks has been asked by his own party to step aside and put support behind Charlie Crist.   Then there is that Rand Paul “Aqua Buddha” ad.  Yikes!  Enough said!  I’m glad October is almost over!

The State of Michigan Needs Inspiration

  • Posted on March 30, 2010 at 10:00 pm

This is the time of year when schools look at their budgets and program offerings for the coming school year.  At Sturgis Middle school we recently found out about our MEAP scores.  Each year we hold our collective breath waiting for the results.  The MEAP doesn’t follow an individual class through their time in school but focuses on grade level.  This means that scores can go up and down sometimes based on the type of class that is currently being taught.  It has been my experience that some years we have classes that are challenging, usually behavior issues are the problem, and some years we have classes that are exceptional both in their behavior and their ability to pass the MEAP.  This year we all have let out our collective breath with a big “Hooray!” as our scores were very good.  We can only hope these scores will continue to be high in the coming years.  I know that everyone at our school is part of the team to help students pass these tests.  This year students, that needed extra time, were given extra “lab” time with their core teachers.  This was accomplished through much effort by the exploratory teachers.  Exploratory teachers were asked to develop a “split” time class in which they would have students for 25 minutes out of 50 minute period.  This has been a difficult thing to accomplish but exploratory teachers rose to the moment and did what was necessary to help make this program a reality.  Most days classes were normal but some days individual students were kept back for more lab time in math, science, etc.  This can be very challenging for any exploratory teacher working with project based media as the student can fall behind in that class and other students will get bored if they spend too much time waiting for the behind students to catch up.  There are often times teachers are pitted against each other based on being a “core” teacher or an “exploratory” teacher.  Core teachers always get the respect from everyone simply because they are teaching what most people see as being necessary for an education, “reading, writing, and arithmetic.”  Some core teachers see themselves as above exploratory teachers by virtue of their placement of importance in the system.   In my nearly seventeen years of teaching at Sturgis a well rounded education has been of utmost importance to Sturgis school district.  Unfortunately, with the current money problems I think many schools are being forced to make cuts to their programs.  Whether it is art, music, drama or extra curricular programs all will be judged regardless of their merits.  At Sturgis we have been able to maintain our programs.  I believe it helps us with the “school of choice” program but as people flee Michigan for other states where they hope to get a job, the outlook for our school is also dim.  The funding coming from the state is less and less each year while the costs for everything from staff to energy continue to rise.  This is forcing larger class sizes and the reduction of services just like what is happening to our state government.  It’s time for our state to develop some new ideas for funding and for surviving our current crisis in our schools as well as all other aspects of our lives.

Our state is in a crisis that can and has to be fixed.  We need more revenue coming into the state to fix these problems.  Either we must create more employment through industry of some type or we must raise taxes on those that are still here working.  The fact is we are going to see a reduction in services across our state in our schools, road work, police, secretary of state’s offices, and anything else that the state touches, if we don’t do something now.  Many people are tired of being taxed and feel it’s gone far enough but many don’t realize the perilous position the state of Michigan is in.  We have such a beautiful state.  I personally think it’s ridiculous that our state should be in such bad shape.  We have natural resources that are the envy of other states.  We have great universities where people come from all over the world to get their education from.  We have terrific hospitals across our state.  We have so much to offer for recreation all through the year from the lakes in the summer to the skiing in the winter.  Unfortunately, for many years we put all of our eggs in that one basket of the automobile industry.  It’s time for new industry to grow and prosper in Michigan.  I love our state.  I think it is an absolutely beautiful state.  We need to develop our commodities to attract people to the state.  We hear about the problems in Detroit but it isn’t just Detroit.  The problem is all across our state.  If you go to the thumb area it is just as depressed as Detroit.  It’s just a smaller population.  Here is Sturgis we too have lost business and of course the people that work in those businesses.  Yet, we have a beautiful little city that could be doing more to get people to stop and shop here and build our local community.  I find myself running to Coldwater and Three Rivers to get things because we don’t have the stores that those communities have to offer.  I’d like to keep my money local but I’m not willing to shop at the loss of choices in products.

Our current government continues to use the same old tactics and behaviors that they have been exhibiting for the past sixty years.  That is the Republicans want to argue about cutting programs and lower taxes and the Democrats want to maintain programs but don’t have the where with all to create the funding for them.  Neither of these approaches really seems to be working.  We need something new and daring to happen.  The same old politics just isn’t working.  Geoffrey Fieger was on a local television program and he was talking about being “inspired”.  He said, “We need someone that will inspire us.”   I couldn’t remember the last time a politician actually inspired me.  Maybe when I was a kid and learned all about John F. Kennedy I felt inspired.  As an art teacher I know that inspiration can lead to all kinds of wonderful thinking and problem solving.  I think maybe our politicians need to be inspirational to bring out the best in their constituents.  My sister is always talking about the “genius among us”.  These are every day people that come up with fantastic ideas and solutions to problems.  Many of them are over looked as being “kooks” or just flatly ignored but there may be somebody out there with great ideas for our state that is just being ignored and overlooked.  I think maybe our current government needs to go to the people for fresh, new ideas.  We need a suggestion box for the government just like those old suggestion boxes we used to see at restaurants.  Someone in Michigan has a great idea for this state and how to turn it around.  I just don’t think it’s a politician.  He or she may be sitting next to us with a wonderful imagination and a desire for change but not the where with all to make it happen.  The state of Michigan needs to set out the suggestion box to get this conversation moving.  Enough of the fighting over budgets and everything else, it’s time for new ideas for funding this state and developing it to its fullest potential.

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