Monday, October 31, 2016

Spell Q U I T

I had debated about returning to the classroom full time. When I arrived in Nashville I was well warned about the state of the schools here and the landscape dotted with private academies and charter schools only further contribute to the decline in enrollment and in turn funding for its public schools. I have also said the merger of the county and city schools in the 60s to force integration has set up their school system as simply too big to succeed. And to rely on Magnets and fake "academies" to somehow encourage students to remain in school and provide supposed school to work training only lends to cracks big and wide for students to further fall through and does little to build school and community that is critical in student achievement. Right now Parents have 90 choice option schools and they try to actually pretend this is a good thing. No it is not as it only further confuses parents and dilutes the funding even more so.

To believe that graduation rates are rising is to believe that students are graduating ready for continuing education, training and work would mean that we would have less than 4% unemployment and universities that would have students ready and able to take on the tasks and requirements of higher learning, graduate on time and with less debt or the ability to repay it as they are attaining appropriate and commensurate work related to their degree.

My favorite is the dueling news stories that in true Tennessee fashion contradict one another about the schools. The current tangent is on a program called Tennessee Promise which is this:
Tennessee Promise is both a scholarship and mentoring program focused on increasing the number of students that attend college in our state. It provides students a last-dollar scholarship, meaning the scholarship will cover tuition and fees not covered by the Pell grant, the HOPE scholarship, or state student assistance funds. Students may use the scholarship at any of the state’s 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology, or other eligible institution offering an associate’s degree program.

While removing the financial burden is key, a critical component of Tennessee Promise is the individual guidance each participant will receive from a mentor who will assist the student as he or she navigates the college admissions process. This is accomplished primarily via mandatory meetings that students must attend in order to remain eligible for the program. In addition, Tennessee Promise participants must complete eight hours of community service per term enrolled, as well as maintain satisfactory academic progress (2.0 GPA) at their institution.

So on NPR this a.m. the story discussed how retention rates were much lower and higher than anticipated, (but do credit that many enrollees were likely college bound but took advantage of the free part so that may be a contributing factor; however those with largely marginalized at risk attendees did not maintain that success ratio).  Yet on the local TV news they claimed it was higher, period higher, no exceptions. Well with a 2.0 GPA, that means they can get largely below average grades to meet the minimum so it is not a challenging program in the least.  But what the news did was define the 58% as successful and I suppose it is but really is it? Again note the GPA minimum and then after the two years in community college do they go on to higher University or what, as once again that was unknown or unclear as to how many are part of this program, how many are just locals or even transplants.  Again vague on the data there but again this is a program in its nascent days, so what exactly are we trumping here.  (That is claiming success regardless is like well...) And for the record, Washington State has a program called Running Start that allows kids to enroll in a Community College to get credits while still attending high school.  And all of these programs are ironic as they are the concept of free college touted by Sanders and now Clinton and the best part is that the one in Tennessee came  from a Republican and an utter idiot (he is a progeny of  a wealthy family self made means in TN getting up alone I think). 

I do want to point out that Tennessee has an immensely low level of education attainment and funding (bottom quartile) and this program was established due to the reality that many Students were arriving below skill level and could not manage college level classes, so really these are what kind of classes?   But wait I thought the grad rates were up and kids were smarter now due to all that testing. Or not as the ACT scores seem to validate. Whatever.  Ah Tennessee they should change their State motto to the Contradiction State vs the Volunteer one.

The below article is discussing Teacher retention and I know I have no intention of doing more than seat warming I do now. And it is not surprising that the number of Teachers bailing is now double when I started 20 years ago, then it was at 40% of new Teachers leaving in the first three years and it now includes more experienced Teachers as well. I have never been more embarrassed, angry and sad every time I walk into a school and classroom.  I actually at one point felt sorry for the Educators but I rarely meet one competent and professional so I have decided to lump them all into the classification of abused spouses. They remind me of that stereotype of a woman too afraid to leave and too caught up in the cycle of love you/hate you to leave. Fear is a powerful hold. I cannot believe it is due to any connection to the students as the majority of kids I encounter are beyond stupid. Yes I used the word stupid.   Do you have another "word" that is a synonym but means the same? I do and it all really falls to stupid. And who is at fault? Well the Teachers and they cannot teach such shattered broken lives when they too are equally broken and shattered.  It is the most negative cycle of energy that one can experience.  Even a kid last week said that to me about his classmates, he said, "they are just stupid."  And he too I felt bad for as he was truly the exception to the rule.

Today  I watched a boy whose behavior verged on bizarre to outright idiocy ramble on for 90 minutes about nothing. His partner in crime a young woman who seemed to alternately encourage this while she too seemed to have the same verbal diarrhea so at some level she seemed to want this performance art to lead me to do something or respond in some way. Uh no, I have seen this repeatedly in Nashville and it now is frankly boring as hell. It is like being trapped in a bad play and you think will this end soon? When she finally asked for me help it was preceded by the usual smirk, eye roll and nod to the friends which sends a non verbal signal to me that this is set up of some kind, of which I am unclear, but it happens on a daily if not hourly basis dependent upon the school that I just now say no, can't help you sorry. I challenge anyone to react and respond differently.

In the article not one mentions the students but in reality that is also a contributory factor but no one wants to actually mention that elephant in the room as risk being labeled racist, etc. Call me whatever you want but I know who I am and I am not a whipping boy for a system or a child broken beyond repair.

What Are The Main Reasons Teachers Call It Quits?

By Eric Westervelt & Kat Lonsdorf • Oct 24, 2016
National Public Radio

For Ross Roberts, it was a lack of resources that drove him from the classroom. For Danielle Painton, it was too much emphasis on testing. For Sergio Gonzalez, it was a nasty political environment.

Welcome to the U.S. teaching force, where the "I'm outta here" rate is an estimated 8 percent a year — twice that of high-performing countries like Finland or Singapore. And that 8 percent is a lot higher than other professions.

The teaching force is "a leaky bucket, losing hundreds of thousands of teachers each year — the majority of them before retirement age," says a recent report from the Learning Policy Institute.

Why are so many teachers leaving?

There are, of course, many reasons both personal and professional.

Let's start with money. While teachers don't get into the profession for the dough, money is a factor. Beginning teachers make about 20 percent less than college graduates in other fields.

But overall, teachers and researchers say, educators want a bigger voice in school policies and plans. Many feel left out of key discussions.

"Working conditions are even more important for keeping people in once they've made the choice to teach," says Linda Darling-Hammond, the president of the Learning Policy Institute.

Another key factor is preparation.

"Teachers who are well prepared leave at more than two times lower rates than teachers who are not fully prepared," Darling-Hammond says.

So what can we learn from teachers who've left? We asked four of them to give us their reasons:

Robert Lutjens 39, is a former middle school science teacher in Sugar Land, Texas, near Houston.

"It sounds a little bit dramatic, but part of it was I was not allowed to fail students," he says. "There was a phrase that kept going around that I heard from administrators: 'We need to make sure they succeed, we need to guarantee their success.' Which was code for: 'They need to pass.' "

Lutjens says he just couldn't support passing students if they weren't learning the material. In addition, he says, the paperwork that came with the job was ludicrous, burdensome and plentiful: "I felt that I had a lot of not very effective hoops to jump through."

What would have helped him stay?

"There's not a simple solution," he says. "I would like to see more of an emphasis on — rather than passing — to have an emphasis on actually learning. The culture of the campus would have had to have a vast overhaul."

Lutjens now works as a pastor at St. John's Lutheran Church in Wharton, Texas.

Danielle Painton, 34, is a former elementary school teacher from Pennsylvania.

When she landed a full-time teaching job right out of college, Painton counted herself lucky. But after a decade at a public elementary school near Lancaster, she called it quits.

Education has become test-and-data obsessed, she says: "The schools are being run a little bit more like on a business model of constantly collecting data and then (that's) driving all of our decisions."

It's a shift, she says, that eroded emphasis on the craft of teaching and seeing students as individuals.

"I can't see that kid who walks through my door — who didn't have breakfast or whose parents just got divorced — and think that his number on his latest test is the most important thing about that child on that day," she told us.

Painton remembers a fourth-grade girl who, in the middle of a weeklong bout of testing, put her head down on her desk.

"I said, 'Are you OK?' " Painton recalls. "And she said, 'Mrs. Painton, this just isn't fun anymore.' "

That stuck.

"It was haunting me," she says. "I just kept hearing: This isn't fun anymore, this isn't fun anymore. And these are kids."

Ross Roberts, 33, is a former high school special education teacher in eastern Tennessee.

"Get this," Roberts says. "I was teaching a reading class and I had no books to read!"

Roberts spent three years teaching special education in Jonesborough, Tenn., before he decided to leave and become a financial adviser.

"If things were different in education, honestly, I would still be there," he says from his office at Northwestern Mutual in Knoxville.

A combination of factors led to his departure, but one of the primary reasons, he says, was the frustration of not having essential resources. He says he regularly had to rely on the Internet for reading material. He eventually worked up some grant money and donations to get books for his class.

Roberts says it was stressful and annoying that teachers were often expected to pay for major supplies out of their own pockets — on a salary that doesn't allow much wiggle room.

"I didn't feel I had that capacity," he says, "and there's a bit of guilt that comes along with that."

Administration and leadership also make "a huge difference," Roberts notes. After he left, he says, a new director stepped into his former district who was focused on making sure that technology and materials got into classrooms.

"It really all boils down to the level of support that you get," he says. "To have that support coming from the top, it just makes your job easier."

Sergio Gonzalez, 29, is a former dual-language middle school teacher in Wisconsin.

Gonzalez taught in Madison's first dual-language program — meaning that he taught science and language arts in both Spanish and English to students in grades 6-8.

"It was draining but extremely rewarding," he remembers.

He'd always wanted to be a teacher. He hadn't even considered another career, he says, until Gov. Scott Walker proposed Act 10 in 2011, a controversial budget measure that was widely perceived as an attack on the power of teachers unions.

The act — and the massive demonstrations by teachers that followed — created a toxic political climate and left many educators feeling alienated.

"The environment for public education in Wisconsin was changing," Gonzalez says.

While most parents were supportive, he says, there was definitely pushback. He remembers that on the day he returned to school, one parent gave him the middle finger as she drove away.

"I knew that if I stuck around I was going to get bitter, and I was not going to be a good teacher," he says. "But I can't emphasize enough how, ever since I was a kid, my goal was to be a public school teacher. And that opportunity seemed to be taken away from me."

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Call the Sub

The article below was quoted on CBS This Morning discussing the impact of teacher absences on student learning. What people don't understand is that much of it is district required. The constant refrain that Teacher's get the "summer" off need to understand that is about 8 weeks and no they don't get paid unless they opt to have their paycheck broken into 12 months vs 10.

Then we have health care, that too stops and resumes or is not available. I discussed in another post about how many Teacher's have to pick their own retirement plans often costing them serious income and it is without regulation and in turn they may be exempt from Social Security (which yes many States have said law) furthering debilitating their retirement plans so many are working years beyond to make ends meet.  And this too affects classrooms and students not because of the aged individual in front of the room (that may be a benefit) but that these are people who do not WANT to be there full time and the demands on one's time as an Educator is immense.

Then we have the supplemental educators, the Instructional Assistants, the Nurses, Bus Drivers and other providers that comprise a school who are also seriously underpaid and when schools are closed are not paid, have no benefits and no job security as their positions are often cut at the top of the school year when the Principal receives the budget and has to make tough decisions on how to provide an operating school for the coming year.

And lastly, and yes lastly are Substitutes. And we are in all of the above category, from food service workers, to Secretaries, Librarians, Nurses, IA's, and lastly Teachers. I have said that in only two states any Teaching experience and in turn licensing requirements are required to be a Substitute Teacher. In some you don't even need any college degree or certificate, a GED suffices. And in some yes you need a college degree in any subject and no experience required.

Substitutes fall into a special category of 1099 employer without the protections that have been put in place by the current Obama Administration. Which given his ed policy not surprising, Obama will never be known as the Education President.

Substitutes were the first Uber, Lyft, Postmates gig professionals long before those who devised those businesses were out of diapers.

Substitutes are paid, at will workers, regardless of state law, they are paid by hour/day, they may or may not have union membership even when the Teachers do, they are exempt from Unemployment insurance and Workman's comp. They have no health care, no due process and few to any worker's protection and no pension or optional retirement plans.

In other words we are disposable.

I am in the process of writing a book about what it is really like to be a Substitute in an urban school district and to see/hear everything but be invisible in a school building. I have this week laughed my ass off as more and more Teachers here in Nashville are being pulled from classrooms for varying violations of the law, history of said violations and no one seemed to know until it was too late. My personal favorite was a Teacher I was planning to sub for but the school was so insane, so damaged and terrifying I canceled the gig, good thing as he "forgot" he had a gun in his backpack that he left in the library. Sure, yeah he forgot. I have been there, he forgot nothing just where he left his backpack that led someone to look into it to find the owner and they found the gun instead. See something say something as they say.

I can only imagine subbing for him the next day. This was the same school the sub across the halls stomped out after a mere two hours screaming she had enough. This book is writing itself at this point.

The Governor of Tennessee claims to be the Education Governor while also admitting for years the state has underfunded education to the point we are 47th in the nation for such. It shows trust me it shows.

So Teachers are required to go to training throughout the year for the varying roll outs of the new latest and greatest trend in Education, from Common Core to Grit to Testing is your friend. And you would say why not in the Summer? Well the district shuts down as they are not funded to operate during the summer either! Well they do but they don't bother with answering emails, calls and such as they run on limited budget so the hours for the workers in specific departments are cut to save costs. Meanwhile the six figure admin staffs run full tilt boogie driving in new cars, etc as the new Superintendent contract allowed. Good times here in Nashville!

And I make 11/hour. I am told that if I work 10 days in a pay period then I get a $25/day bonus!! Gosh how generous. How about compensating me up front. So when I go to work I pick what I will do. I will either Teach or I will seat fill, it is usually the later as I am rarely left decent lesson plans, seating charts, school protocol and spoken to by the school staff, let alone the students as a civil human being so it makes it easy to just sit there. Then add to it that schools can't find subs so they bait and switch and move us to another class that has problems getting subs or running to another room during a prep period to cover for an unfilled position. Teachers are actually given a whole 11/hr if they do it as their contract covers that but they are also rarely given a daily prep so it is a matter of choice - prep or a whole $11/hr.

To say the schools here are fucked beyond belief has never been in them. You can be it takes an FBI fingerprint and for unlicensed teachers a training video for which you pay for. Actually you pay for the Fingerprints too so for about $70 bucks, your first day of pay as unlicensed Teachers make $10/hr. Yes I am worth one whole dollar an hour more!

Now it is true you cannot get Subs in your field, be that Math, Science, Foreign Language, Language Arts, etc. But if lesson plans with keys and a text are in place you can often get through many lessons. You can teach cultural history with regards to languages and in turn even Physics can be an interesting opportunity to find the kid who is good at it and they can teach the class and you. It is team and community building. Funny I was told at the school with the gun toting Teacher they don't do that there. Yes, clearly they don't.

The other day I came home to an email from the Director of Substitutes asking if anyone was interested in three long term sub gigs at two schools. One for a month, one for a several weeks and another for a few months. I clicked delete. I would no more sub long term at any school for $11/hr. That same day a woman called from a school I have never been and whom I have never heard of asking me to sub at a school I would not go. It is not in Nashville it is in Madison as here in the infinite wisdom 30 years ago to integrate the schools they incorporated the county schools with the city creating a behemoth of a system that is too big to succeed.

So ask yourself if you really know your community and its schools as we head into election time. Find out the rules and requirements about Substituting and see if you qualify (the likelihood you do is high) and do it for 28 days as the Author, Nicholas Baker, did and which he dutifully recorded in his book Substitute Teacher. It is like that and it is not but what was hilarious was that none one Teacher seemed to think to ask him about himself and even recognize the name and do a Google search. There is some intellectual curiosity right there.

1 in 4 U.S. teachers are chronically absent, missing more than 10 days of school

While many focus attention on student absences and their effect on academic achievement, experts say teacher absences also can have a negative effect.

By Alejandra Matos
The Washington Post
October 26 2016

More than 1 in 4 of the nation’s full-time teachers are considered chronically absent from school, according to federal data, missing the equivalent of more than two weeks of classes each academic year in what some districts say has become an educational crisis.

The U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights estimated this summer that 27 percent of the nation’s teachers are out of school for more than 10 days of regular classes — some missing far more than 10 days — based on self-reported numbers from the nation’s school districts. But some school systems, especially those in poor, rural areas and in some major cities, saw chronic absenteeism among teachers rise above 75 percent in 2014, the last year for which data is available.

In the Alamance-Burlington School System, located between Greensboro and Chapel Hill, N.C., 80 percent of its 1,500 teachers missed more than 10 days of school in the 2013-2014 school year. Cleveland reported that about 84 percent of its 2,700 teachers had excessive absences. Nevada’s Clark County School District, which includes Las Vegas, reported that more than half of its 17,000 teachers were chronically absent — missing a total of at least 85,000 work days, or the equivalent number of hours that nearly 500 teachers would work during an entire 180-day school year.

Although much attention focuses on the 6 million students who miss more than 15 days of school each year, making them much more likely to see low achievement and increasing the chances of not graduating, , teacher absences could be having a similarly negative effect on scholastic success. Superintendents and education policymakers say students need consistency in the classroom and high-quality instruction, noting that a parade of substitutes can seriously set back academic progress.
In this April 18, 2014 photo, students listen to a substitute teacher during a world studies class in Olympia, Wash. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

“Most teachers are there all the time, as they should be, because they want to be in the classroom,” said Nithya Joseph, director for state policy at the National Council on Teacher Quality. But those who aren’t there all the time could be hurting their students.

“When the teacher of record is not in the classroom, it has an impact on student achievement,” Joseph said.

The National Bureau of Economic Research has found that when teachers are absent for at least 10 days, there is a significant decrease in student outcomes. The decrease, according to one study, is equivalent to the difference between having a new teacher and one with two or three years of experience.

School district administrators do not know what exactly is causing excessive teacher absenteeism. Some point to teachers taking sick leave, maternity leave and personal days to which they are entitled, and others attribute part of the problem to school climate. When teachers don’t feel motivated to go to school and teach, some of them just don’t show up.

That’s what happened with Sean McGrath, a former social studies teacher in the District’s Stuart-Hobson Middle School. During his first seven years as a teacher, McGrath said he missed a total of 17 days.

McGrath then accumulated seven absences since the beginning of September, although he said he was only sick for one of those days. He quit his job last month, saying he felt he did not have his principal’s support and that he thought the school didn’t have enough support staff to control behavior in the building.

“I would wake up in a panic and feeling like there was a pit in my stomach,” McGrath said. “It was a feeling of dread and despair.”

Three other teachers at Hobson echoed McGrath’s sentiments, saying in interviews that they feel stressed out about going to school; one other teacher told The Washington Post that she has quit her job because of the school environment.

Stuart-Hobson, on Capitol Hill, reported that 58 percent of its teachers missed more than 10 school days in the 2014 school year, one of the highest rates in D.C. Public Schools.

Michelle Lerner, a D.C. Public Schools spokeswoman, said chronic teacher absenteeism in the school system is in line with the national average, at about 30 percent. Lerner said 80 percent of the school system’s teachers report that they are in a good place to teach, a number that has increased since 2014. She said Hobson’s principal was not available to speak about her school’s climate, and the principal did not respond to requests for comment.

In the Washington area, Fairfax County schools are in line with the national average while Arlington and Prince William County schools were both slightly above the national average. Montgomery County reported that just 14 percent of its teachers are chronically absent, about half the average.

The estimates from the Education Department indicated that 58 school districts with more than 1,000 full-time teachers had chronic absentee rates above 50 percent.

Although the federal absentee data was self-reported, several school districts told The Post that their numbers appeared to be incorrect, and sometimes wildly so. Although school districts were not supposed to include professional development days in their tallies, some did. And some of the data was erroneous: The Onslow County, N.C., school district, for example, was shown to have 99 percent of its teachers chronically absent but said its number is actually 19 percent. Many school districts confirmed that their number of teachers chronically absent was still far higher than the national average.

School officials with the Alamance-Burlington school district in North Carolina said they are alarmed by high teacher absenteeism, which was approximately 80 percent in 2014. The district began conducting regular surveys about teacher morale and increased teacher pay slightly.

The efforts have yielded results, bringing the number of teachers who missed more than 10 days down to about 50 percent last school year. But Superintendent Bill Harrison still considers that rate unfortunate.

“We still have too many days that our students don’t have that quality teacher in front of them,” Harrison said.

North Carolina ranks above the national average in teacher absences, and school district leaders there say state laws that grant personal leave and sick days are a contributor. Others say the state’s large military population has an impact. In Onslow County, a district that surrounds the Marine Corps’ Camp Lejeune, school officials said their teachers are mostly young military wives, many of whom take maternity leave or take days off when spouses return from deployments.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said the federal data doesn’t paint a fair, complete or accurate picture because it only reports when teachers are out of their classrooms, not why they are out, such as for illnesses or family deaths. She also said teachers face unusual workplace stress, and that women, who make up amajority of teachers, are often primary caregivers for their families and are more likely to miss work because of it.

“The data also doesn’t address some other basic conditions faced by teachers — the stress, the need to work beyond the school day and the juggling of work and home that interferes more with their family life than most professions,” Weingarten said. “To better address absenteeism, we need to understand root causes.”

Beth Howard was absent from her classroom for 19 days last school year, leaving her students at Onslow’s Dixon Elementary with a substitute teacher. The art teacher, at the same school for 34 years, said she rarely misses a day of instruction, but last year was different — she had to care for her ailing mother, who died.

Howard prepared detailed lesson plans for her substitute teacher, and she said she worried about her students the entire time. “We wouldn’t have gone into this job if we weren’t dedicated,” Howard said. “Teachers want to be with our kids. If not, we would quit or move on.”

The Guilford County School District, North Carolina’s third-largest, began researching why its students were missing so many days of school. That’s when administrators discovered that teachers also were piling up absences. Federal data show Guilford reported that half of its 4,700 teachers missed more than 10 days of school in 2014.

“It hits you in the face that maybe what you are dealing with is much more basic,” said Nora Carr, the school district’s chief of staff. “No matter what’s going on, if you don’t have a great teacher in the classroom, kids aren't going to learn as much as they would otherwise.”

The district has considered financial incentives for teachers who don’t take a lot of days off. Nevada’s Clark County School District also is exploring financial incentives after it saw more than half of its nearly 18,000 teachers miss more than 10 days of school in 2014.

Mike Barton, the school system’s chief student achievement officer, said replacing thousands of absent teachers is a significant burden, and the replacements are never as good for students.

“I don’t want for one minute for people to think that we are ignoring this,” Barton said. “This is something that we want to make sure improves.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Boys with their toys

Upon occasion I do discuss television as it relates to the big picture of issues that I find interesting or amusing. That has included the Real Housewives and Million Dollar Listing. And yes it is stretch but then again as one ages I get when my Mother and Father would go, "don't bother me during my show."

So on that note I wanted to talk about the Walking Dead. It returned Sunday night and as it airs here at 8 pm I was just finishing dinner and then by the end of it I was on the verge of an eating disorder as I felt sick.

My tweets can confirm my rants and my utter horror at watching what perhaps was the most violent, sado masochist, soft core porn version of a snuff film I have ever seen. And the only thing I have never seen is a snuff film so on that I speculated based on watching American Horror Story Freak Show version when the great Jessica Lange discussed losing her legs. (That series along with Nip/Tuck came perilously close to high end porn on many episodes)

Jeffrey Dean Morgan aka Negen the new George Clooney of television acting, he smirked,  he bellowed,  he paraded around swinging his thorn draped phallus disguised as a baseball bat, in which he threatened and in turn used to bash skulls repeatedly, then promised to rape varying characters with in the manner of a wrestling coach ran amok. Now I have never read the comics but it is my understanding that was his previous profession in a pre apocalyptic world.

I find Jeffrey Dean Morgan attractive in that sinister bar fly way that after a few drinks, some self loathing you would hit that, only sans the bat. In this new world he takes that literally and it shows.

This show is written by men for men. It started out as an interesting show, with a strong premise, matched with interesting diverse actors and a compelling concept. Then they fired the original show runner and from there it has transcended into moments of depravity coupled with fascinating characters developing into interesting ones. There is no doubt the Darrell, Carol, Glenn and Rick characters have the moral core and the heroic elements that enabled those to believe and to in turn follow them to literally the end of the world. Others have come and gone and equally some of interest and some less so but none as disturbing as the character of Negen.

When I found out that Negen's former profession was a Coach I knew instantly it explained the transition from the weak to the depraved. I have personally witnessed way too many Coaches as Teachers and they have an almost god like fascination with domination and control under the guise of sports when in reality it is all sexual frustration and confusion. Dennis Hasert, Jerry Sandusky anyone?

I read the entire comic book synopsis on Wikipedia and it only confirmed my worst beliefs about this season, so I cancelled by recording and decided that enough was enough and I am walking out.

I read this review and could not agree more. The comments deriding the author's perception are of course men. The same at the Washington Post and other review sites. When I watched the Talking Dead I did not know if I should laugh or throw up as watching a group of actors discuss a character they play on a TV show as if they were speaking about a real person in third person was over the top. What used to be a nerd fan fic show that quasi celebrities would sit with the host and register shock, horror, amusement over the shows episode has now turned into Inside the Actors Studio without James Lipton. It is a TV show you idiots and then I saw the show runners - two pasty faced white men - and it explained all I need to know. They are deplorable's as Hillary Clinton called the Trumpkins and it is clear they are going through their own S&M fantasies and getting paid for it versus the other way round. I used to know a Domm in Seattle who would be happy to take care of that.

Walk away and live, watching that made me feel dead inside and I have no interest in being a Zombie at this point.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Chalk it Up

As I read this I busted out laughing and thought that every election cycle one candidate announces that they would eliminate the Department of Education. I am beginning to agree and the legacy of Obama and his leaders with regards to that department did little to change my mind.

What should be a reasonable source of information, a type of Ombudsman, clearinghouse and watchdog instead has become the dumping ground for Oligarchs and their "ideas" on Education with regards to profit.

We have seen the growth of charters and in turn the problems that result, the online academies that do little to spurn growth but undoubtedly contribute to the graduation rates that have risen; we have a testing industry that writes junk, is utterly useless and all imagined by a woman who may herself be imaginary as no one has seemingly ever met or interviewed her with regards to her metrics and evaluation framework - Charlotte Danielson; we have lawsuits over funding and segregation across the country. There are Teacher shortages, schools and classrooms busting at the seams and kids not completing college in 4 years often in 6 to 7 years and few from low income and working class home who finish at all, further contributing to income inequality. And yes the bust up of the for profit schools have been great but the one surrounding ITT took over 17 years, so can we really credit the Obama Administration for that one?

And I
read about Teachers who in many locales are not eligible for Social Security nor have state pensions but instead must opt for private investments. And of course the rip off there is par for the course and neither the Education Department or Social Health Services provides assistance let alone regulation to enable Teachers to be secure in their retirement. Well that will take care of the Teacher shortage, have them work into their dotage.

As I sit writing this there is an ad for 12 former school sites for sale - where? Newark, home of the infamous Zuckerberg donation and failure by Booker to transform the city's schools. Well the buildings will make the district richer and I am sure the city will put the money towards the schools left, or not.

Race for the bottom of the barrel then fight it out. That should be the next new scheme or plan to further denigrate public education. I see it first hand in Tennessee one of the many ground zero states set up by its Republican Governor for school choice, which means you have well this. It is not good, 47th in the country for spending, a Capital city with less than 30% of its population possessing post secondary degrees, and a charter district that has overwhelming failed in its mission and the two shucksters that manned it have long gone to peddle their crap onto other cities. This is the honky tonk paradise kids.

Obama and his minions failed with regards to Education. Chalk that up to another one as his legacy is a mine field of them. (And yes I support him but I wonder what would have happened in 2008 had Hillary been elected, we might have avoided the Trump entirely)

Obama’s real education legacy: Common Core, testing, charter schools

By Valerie Strauss
The Washington Post
October 21 

President Obama went to a high-performing D.C. high school this week to tout the “progress” his administration has made in public education, America’s most important civic institution. To mark the legacy moment, he brought along the two men who have served as his education secretaries — Arne Duncan and John King Jr., along with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Gen. Colin Powell and his wife Alma.

It’s what he didn’t say that was most revealing. A fuller evaluation of the Obama education legacy would look somewhat different from the one he offered.

Obama charmed the student audience at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, joking with them and telling them he remembers some of the awkward social moments of being a high school student. As the White House text shows:

So, by now you’ve settled into the new year. Right? Adjusted to classes. You’re preparing for Spirit Week. (Applause.) Learning how to ballroom dance. (Laughter.) I remember having to do that. Getting the nerve to text that cute girl or boy in your English class. (Laughter.) I don’t remember that; we did not have texts. We had to send little notes. And then we used to actually have to go up to somebody if we liked them and talk to them. So that may happen to you someday. (Laughter.)

He reminded the kids that he had visited Banneker in 2011 and was so impressed that he wanted to return “because you’re an example of a school that’s doing things the right way.” Later he said he wanted every school to be “as great as this one.”

There’s no denying that Banneker is a top-performing school in the nation’s capital, and that 100 percent of its seniors graduate. But it’s unclear if Obama knows that if every school did what Banneker does, the high school graduation rate might plummet. That’s because Banneker is a magnet school where students must apply to get in — but the only entry grades are ninth and tenth. And they must maintain a B- average to stay. Kids who can’t cut it leave, but that attrition isn’t counted against the school’s graduation rate.

Obama did touch on graduation rates, touting the newly announced, highest-ever national high school graduation rate of 83 percent. He noted that “D.C.’s graduation rates grew faster than any other place in the country” this past year. He didn’t say that that “fastest-growing” designation would include D.C. charter schools in the mix with traditional public schools, perhaps because he didn’t mention charter schools at all.

Why is that strange in a speech dedicated to talking up his education legacy? Because the growth of charter schools was a key priority in his administration’s overall school reform program. Promising to promote the expansion of charter schools was one of the ways that states could win some of the money in Obama’s signature $4.3 billion Race to the Top funding competition. Today, 6 percent of U.S. public school students attend charter schools, up from about 3 percent when he took office in 2009. (It was 2 percent in 2004.) And he was standing in a city that has one of the most successful charter school sectors in the country.

Charter schools — which are funded by the public but allowed to operate outside traditional districts — have become highly controversial in the world of education, with supporters saying they promote educational equity by giving students in failing systems an alternative, and opponents saying that they operate without accountability to the public and rob traditional schools of resources they need to educate the neediest students, which charters don’t enroll in the same percentages.

While some charter schools do an excellent job, scandals — especially with for-profit companies allowed to operate charters — have become common in the sector because of little or no oversight by states. A recent audit by the Education Department’s Inspector General’s Office found that the department — which awards multi-million-dollar grants to states for the creation and expansion of charters — had failed to provide adequate oversight of some of its relationships with charter management organizations.

Meanwhile, as charter schools grow with administration support, charter supporters and opponents are in a scorched-earth war of words, with both sides claiming the civil rights mantle and accusing the other of harming children. When the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, last week ratified a referendum calling for a moratorium on new charters until new accountability measures can be instituted, critics accused of it being no better than the racist former governor of Alabama, George Wallace.

That wasn’t the only controversial subject Obama barely mentioned. He did not mention by name the Common Core State Standards initiative, another big priority for the administration during Duncan’s seven-year tenure running the Education Department, during which he wielded more power than any previous education secretary while also attracting more opposition than his predecessors.

Adopting common standards was also on Race to the Top’s list of preferred reforms Duncan sought from applying states, and the administration spent some $360 million for two multi-state consortia to develop new Core-related standardized tests. Duncan himself promised that the new tests would be “an absolute game-changer” in public education.

It didn’t work out that way. The tests were nowhere as sophisticated as originally promoted. The rush to get them into schools led to computer troubles in some states, some of them severe. One of the tests, known as PARCC, was abandoned by most of the states that had agreed to use it, and the overall idea behind the standards and aligned testing — that test results would be comparable across states — has not been accomplished.

The Education Department’s ties to the Gates Foundation, which funded the creation and implementation of the Core, also sparked criticism that the administration was too close to wealthy philanthropists who were intent on driving their own personal vision of school reform.

Another priority of the administration’s was creating teacher evaluation systems that were linked to student standardized test scores — yet another part of Race to the Top. This policy was also part of waivers that the Education Department gave to states seeking to avoid the most onerous parts of the flawed No Child Left Behind law. If a state wanted a waiver, it had to agree to specific reforms, including linking educator evaluations with test scores.

High-stakes tests for students are questionable enough, but the idea of putting a teacher’s job and salary at risk based on how well their students do on test scores raises a host of other problems. Assessment experts have repeatedly warned that methods used to link student test scores to teacher evaluations are largely unfair and invalid. Those experts include the American Statistical Association, the largest organization in the United States representing statisticians and related professionals, as well as the Board on Testing and Assessment of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences.

But the administration pushed the practice anyway and the problems that developed would be amusing if the consequences weren’t so serious.

Remember that kids are tested in English Language Arts and math. So how do teachers of other subjects get linked to test scores? Some districts considered and even experimented with standardized tests in other subjects; in North Carolina, one district even tried a test in Yearbook class.

Another method was to evaluate teachers in non-tested areas by exam averages of their entire school — or by either English or math test averages. As a result, many teachers were evaluated in part on how well students they didn’t teach do on exams, as well as on test scores from subjects they didn’t teach. One superintendent lauded by the Obama administration was Michelle Rhee, who led D.C. Public Schools from 2007 to 2010 and was a pioneer in test-based assessment systems. She was so enamored with test scores that she required every adult in every school building — including the custodians and lunch ladies — to be evaluated in part by them. Duncan liked her so much that when rumors rose that she was quitting in 2010, he (unsuccessfully) tried to get her to stay.

The elevation of standardized test scores as the chief accountability metric had other insidious consequences. Under a philosophy that nearly every student could and should take some version of a standardized test to show progress, some kids were forced to take tests who couldn’t possibly know what was going on. That included a boy in Florida named Michael who was born with a brain stem but not a complete brain, who was forced to “take” an alternative version of the standardized Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. Blind and unable to talk or understand basic information, his state-funded teacher literally moved his hand to the right answers. While Michael’s disability was exceptional, he was not the only child with extremely severe disabilities to be forced to take tests because Education Department officials decided every student should be assessed with a standardized exam.

The administration’s obsession with standardized tests led to a rebellion by parents, students, teachers, principals and even superintendents. Many spoke out against testing policies — and many parents refused to allow their students to take exams mandated by states for federal accountability purposes. In New York, with the most active movement, 22 percent of students “opted out” of at least one test, and opt-outs were reported in numerous other states. It was only after the “opt out” movement began to grow that the administration conceded that kids were being tested too much.

The New York State commissioner of education who pushed the test-based teacher accountability system — which has been crashing and burning for years — was John King Jr., who left the job early after 3 1/2 years, essentially getting a public shove by Gov. Andrew Cuomo not only for the teacher evaluation fiasco but for a botched implementation of Common Core. The reason this is worth mentioning is that King — who has an inspirational personal story — is now Obama’s second education secretary.

Such micromanaging of education by the administration — traditionally seen as a local function — is what led Congress, in November 2015, to pass a successor to NCLB, called the Every Student Succeeds Act. Obama did mention the new law in his speech at Banneker:

So teachers deserve more than just our gratitude — they deserve our full support. And we’ve got to make their lives easier, which is why we enacted a law to fix No Child Left Behind, which gives teachers more flexibility to spend more time teaching creatively than just spending all their time teaching to a test. Give your teachers a big round of applause. (Applause.) They deserve it.

What he didn’t mention was that Congress was finally inspired to replace NCLB — eight years after it was supposed to be rewritten — because members of both parties wanted to stop the administration’s unprecedented exercise of federal power in education. Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who heads the Senate education committee and was a prime mover behind the new law, called the Education Department under Duncan “a national school board.” By exercising federal power in questionable ways, the administration gave an opening to Congress to send back a great deal of education of power to the states, many of which never covered themselves in glory in how they approached public education.

The notion of giving teachers “our full support” is likely welcome to them, many of whom have felt they were being targeted by the Obama administration. The 2012 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher found that teacher job satisfaction had plummeted from 62 percent of teachers feeling “very satisfied” in 2008 to 39 percent by 2012. This was the lowest in the 25-year history of the survey.

And the percentage of students who apply for teacher preparation programs has significantly dropped in recent years. He told the students to appreciate their teachers:

You all know how hard they work. They stay up late grading your assignments. That’s why you got all those marks all over your papers. They pull sometimes money out of their own pockets to make that lesson extra special. And I promise you, the teachers here and the teachers around the country, they’re not doing it for the pay — because teachers, unfortunately, still aren’t paid as much as they should be. They’re not doing it for the glory. They’re doing it because they love you, and they believe in you, and they want to help you succeed.

Actually, teachers who use their own money for their classrooms usually aren’t doing it “to make that lesson extra special.” They are doing it because without it, their kids might not have paper or books or other essentials. Equitable school funding, however, wasn’t a priority of the administration in a country where funding is largely based on property taxes, leaving school systems in wealthy areas with more to spend on education than districts in poor areas, where kids need more support. For that matter, Obama did take note of the administration’s interest in early childhood education — though he didn’t mention that it became a priority only in his second administration, by which time there was little surplus money to spend on it.

When Obama first took office, many of the people who voted for him had hoped he would make educational equity the focus of school reform policy. His selection of Stanford University Professor Linda Darling-Hammond, an expert on equity and teacher preparation, as the education leader of his transition team was a hopeful sign.

Then, instead of naming her as education secretary, as many believed would happen, he instead selected Duncan, a friend from Chicago who was deeply steeped in the corporate reform movement that embraced the Core standards, tests, data and school “choice” as the way to close the achievement gap. Darling-Hammond wrote a book, “The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future,” about authentic educational equity and had two copies printed in hardback, one for her and one sent to President Obama, an effort to try to steer his reform policies toward equity.

The White House did not answer a query about whether he ever read it.

Corporate reform didn’t work as planned, and perhaps that is why Obama’s speech meant to talk about his education accomplishments didn’t mention it in a substantive way. His major educational initiatives were around standards, testing and charter schools — not the kind of broad-based school reform that attempts to meet the most basic needs of students, many of whom come to school hungry, exhausted and sick. What happens in classrooms is indeed important, but reform critics argued that schools cannot systemically overcome the effects that poverty have on children.

Obama summed up his legacy this way:

So bottom line is: higher graduation rates, higher college attendance rates, more money for Pell grants and work to make sure that the interest rate on student loans haven’t gone up; working to expand early childhood education and preschool; continuing to watch and work with states as they try to implement reforms to make K-12 better; holding colleges more accountable for giving information so that students can make good decisions. We’ve made a lot of progress. We have made a lot of progress in terms of making sure that young people across the country get the kind of great education that you’re getting here at Banneker.

That’s not the important education legacy many Obama supporters had hoped he would leave.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Gift

In my old home town they are having a massive debate over the highly capable/advanced placement programs that are to serve a small cohort of children that fall into the category of Special Ed. This is not mandated nor described that way in Seattle, so there is no law but there is policy to address those children that test in the upper tiers.  The tests are free to those who cannot afford it but the test prep and the needed push towards that gets a big F for pulling in kids that are of color and by color that means not Asian, as that cohort dominate the programs.  And why? Cultural.  As for the other kids - be they Black, Native, Samoan, Latino  they are drastically under-represented.  So last week they donned Black Lives Matter shirts, had a day of unity and had available curriculum that was to discuss the disparities of race and have the "courageous conversations" about the subject that was to open the door to resolving the color gap.

And in true Seattle fashion, or as we called there the Seattle "process" hysteria ensued about what that meant, when largely white Teachers were teaching Black Studies, the subliminal issue of tracking and in turn removing gifted programs entirely (which one school is moving towards under Gifted for All) and the arrival of stickers that called HCC APParthied.  Good times as per usual in a city known for its white people problems.  Seattle has way more problems with regards to income inequality as it is so cost prohibitive for any family to afford to live there unless making 6 figures, the rising problems with homelessness that affects the schools, the neighborhoods in which they reside and the parks in which children play; they need to figure that out and in turn ensure that families are making livable wages in which to continue to live and work in Seattle and diversify the city and its schools.  And in turn some of that would resolve the issues of both discipline and educational achievement when families are together, financially secure and provided access and opportunity to the same things their neighbors have, regardless of color.

And I live in Nashville which puts the D in function when it comes to schools and in turn its D in diversity is under fire as it too massively gentrifies and the once clearly defined and segregated neighborhoods (you have to see Nashville as a pie and it shows how it was divided and the way housing projects were placed to define and in turn redline a district) are now being torn up and rebuilt.  And no where proves that as it has made my once dumping ground park and street a thriving growing utterly diverse part of Nashville.

However that has not happened with regards to schools and likely won't under the new Superintendent.  A quick Google search of his former district, Prince George in Maryland, shows that the problems there are truly disturbing of which he was at least tangentially a part of.  As in Seattle, Nashville has a prodigious bloggers that are uncovering the scandal and asking questions about the current Superintendent that the media fails to ask.

And it is often from blogs I actually know what is going on in the schools where I work.  I actually know plenty but as a Sub I am a Ninja and I try to be as invisible as possible as to avoid the drama and bullshit that schools thrive on.  And in Nashville I simply loathe them too much to and it is the only way I can so not to care and hate myself just a little less every day.

And as the bloggers in Seattle have become overwrought with issues surrounding gifted ed someone quoted Nashville and their program. And another poster said, "have you seen the ed numbers in Nashville and Tennessee, this is not a place nor a program we want to emulate."  I busted out laughing at that one as yes that is true.  At the supposed gifted Magnet school with its testing and in  to ensure that not only the best and brightest are admitted, it retains its diversity by admitting those students only by lottery.   And as one suspicious that testing actually measures intellect I did also laugh as the district is under a lawsuit by former Teachers who exposed fraud with regards to testing issues at schools they were at.    This too is not new nor exclusive to Nashville.

 Again, I want to remind that if this is the best and brightest it is tragically a low bar from which to draw as the public school cohort of gifted is a small group.   And private schools here and as in Seattle, compete to attract those kids of color so they offer generous scholarships and other means to ensure diversity and prove they are good people and equal and stuff!

So that leaves the smarty pants group attending public school a small population  and that they still  need to be served, the question is how to do so in a system with dwindling resources and increasing demands for programs too that need funding, especially English Language Learners and the disabled.

So here is an article about the gifted program in Nashville an no Seattle this is not the answer. But the funny part is that the last paragraph cites the skills that mark the gifted. These are skills and qualities easily taught to anyone so perhaps Gifted for All is not a bad idea, the children of Nashville desperately need these qualities regardless as frankly I have seen few, very few, children who exhibit any of them. In Seattle I saw it quite a bit it is non existent here. It would be a gift if I saw it here more often, that Southern Hospitality thing y'all!

Minorities lacking in Nashville school gifted programs

Jason Gonzales March 3, 2016 The Tennessean

Micah Davis sits quietly with folded hands, posture straight, in the corner of an Una Elementary gifted and talented classroom.

After teacher Paula Pendergrass pulls out a sticky, squishy model brain, Micah seems above the excitement displayed by many of her fellow third- and fourth-graders. Although she is quiet, the 9-year-old knows she belongs with the rambunctious crowd.

"I feel smart in general," Micah said.

The attitudes and personalities displayed among Pendergrass' diverse set of students are varied. Some are know-it-alls, hyper, or, like Micah, relaxed. All are gifted and talented in some way, explains Pendergrass.

Metro Nashville Public Schools' gifted and talented programs seek to nurture and develop the potential of students with above-average academic and intellectual abilities. In the past, those kids were recommended for the program primarily by teachers and in-class observations, which has led to inequity in the number of diverse students in the district's gifted services program.

In a district where minority students outnumber whites, the majority of Nashville schools don't have equal representation among their students in gifted services programs.

Una Elementary, just south of the Nashville International Airport, is one of only a handful with more minority students enrolled in the program than white students. About 100 schools participate.

"All kids are born with gifts and talents," Pendergrass said. "The problem is that if we don't catch that gift and talent early on, it goes stagnant. So the gift and talent is there, but we need to do a better job as educators to catch that gift early on."

But the district is making efforts to increase diversity in the gifted program, especially through community outreach, said Schunn Turner, the district coordinator of gifted services."We are getting better at getting diverse students to the table and being more representative of our district," she said.

Vanderbilt report: Black kids underrepresented in gifted programs

A recent Vanderbilt University report, seeking to explain the inequity among gifted students in Nashville and nationwide, found white teachers were able to more readily identify gifted skills in white students than those of diverse backgrounds.

The report says the traits and characteristics displayed by culturally diverse students are often different than those of white students, and it is sometimes easier for teachers of different cultural backgrounds to spot gifted and talented traits in nonwhite students.

Metro Schools is made up of almost 44 percent black students, while more than 70 percent of all teachers in Nashville schools are white.

And although the district is made up of 30 percent white students, they eclipse the number of diverse students in Nashville elementary school gifted programs by almost 3-to-1. That number includes black, Latino and Asian students.

Gifted programs are said to improve motivation, self-efficacy, engagement with learning and socioeconomic projections for students. Teachers largely select students for those programs based off their own observations, according to the study. That also was the case in Metro Schools.
Laila Moore, 9, draws in Paula Pendergrass' EncoreBuy Photo

(Photo: Samuel M. Simpkins / The Tennessean)

Through the efforts of Turner's department, the district has begun to follow some of the best practices Vanderbilt researchers have recommended to cut down on the disparity, which includes a universal screener and outreach to parents.

The screener will help do away with any test bias, Turner said. But not every parent asks or knows about the gifted and talented Encore service, Turner said.

For Micah, her mom asked for the school to test the student for gifted and talented services.

"What we see is that when communities have a lot of information about the services, those schools will have huge Encore numbers," Turner said.

Overall, Pendergrass has seen some differences at Una and throughout the district, especially in the parents. The community outreach about the program has targeted churches and nonprofits where many diverse parents attend or need services.

"I've noticed that numbers have changed," Pendergrass said. "We still have work to do.

"We are a work in progress."

The Encore Program

The Encore Program, which is in about 100 schools, is designed to nurture, challenge and develop the potential of gifted and talented students, according to the district's website. More than 3,000 students participate.

Eligibility into the K-6 program is based on demonstration of advanced classroom performance, an achievement test or evidence of displayed higher level thinking.

Intellectually gifted and academically talented students are those whose abilities and potential for achievement deserve special attention to meet their educational needs, the site says. According to the district's website, those with gifted or talented abilities display traits that include:

A want to know "how" and "why"
Exceptional memory
A keen sense of observation about human interaction
Sensitivity to the feelings of others
Strong observation to detail
A keen sense of humor
Or displays an early tendency to do things alone.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Big Guns

That is the NRA both physically and metaphorically. This week talking to the child of Arab immigrants who wants a military coup if Hillary Clinton is elected but  during her administration fails to stop ISIS and also takes away the 2nd Amendment, the time frame for this is unclear.  He did not have any hesitation   if Trump is elected as he sees him willing to capitulate to the military as necessary. I so want to point out that this boy is an American citizen, the child of Arab immigrants, who is not Muslim, and also has problems with Muslims as well, who admits he is ADD, admittedly only taking his medication occasionally, and was the most right wing conservative I have possibly met in Nashville. The best part was that he was at the "best" magnet school for children who are tested in the upper percentile. I saw many kids that day and if this is Nashville's best and brightest, then I see the concern with regards to a population where fewer than 30% possess post secondary degrees, so I had to  question if the  children of that school came from homes where they possess a higher degree?  (Yes I have always been an intellectual snob but Nashville has brought out the worst in that trait) And if so, how is  it that they are attending a public school in a city that shames itself with regards to public education?  No one here of merit respects it in the least so again there is a low bar from which to draw.

And this followed my exchange with a student the day before whose behavior was so troublesome I had to segregate him from the class and at that point he goes, "why do I always get into trouble, I don't do anything to deserve this?  I wish we could move back to Kurdistan." I told him to inform his parents of said wish and see what they could do to accommodate it. And then I thought: "future terrorist."  If a boy 13 hates it here does not feel he belongs, acts out in ways to draw negative attention what more does one need to realize what that anger and resentment will result in?

This is the kind of Teacher I have become since relocating to Nashville, quickly labeling and judging children, yes children with regards to the kind of adult they will become. I have called one kid a potential sexual predator based on his behavior and conduct, another a future inmate and this was a girl after taking a mock swing at me and other terms/phrases that are derogatory and inflammatory in the best of situations and disgraceful in the worst.  But I finally understood why the Adults I have encountered are excessive disciplinarians and almost militaristic in their behavior, as it is a way of simply protecting themselves from the emotional and intellectual stress that that is the result of teaching here. That is the only way you can to prevent internalizing the sheer abuse children will subject you to as they are that damaged. Kindness is perceived a weakness here and the children here will stomp you if you give them any space in which to lift the boot to your head. I have never met a group of children so damaged and troubled as I have in Nashville Public Schools.

So yes I am afraid in these schools and if ( a big if as there have been schools with homicides and guns found on possession) they finally snapped it would be at a school. Hell if San Francisco can have a school shooting there is no reason or explanation why Nashville of all places have managed to avoid it. This week we had the feds in a local school investigating two students for counterfeiting money. I was warned about the schools here and frankly they were nowhere as cautionary as they should have been given how bad they are.

Today the New York Times had a cover story on the last 130 shootings in America and of late I find myself after each shooting analyzing the profiles to see if there were early signs, stories about them as children or their family history as some way of defending or excusing my sudden new compulsion to label/judge/assess the students I meet. But in reality there are always signs and patterns that emerge early on and despite the compulsion by family, friends and so forth to tell media otherwise we have to realize that denial is a part of the problem and as a result we enable and provide opportunity for these people to fall through the cracks.

 The article is long but a worthy read to understand that we can have regulation and still have the 2nd Amendment we just have to want to.  And that going to take some big guns.

What 130 of the Worst Shootings Say About Guns in America

OCT. 21, 2016

John R. Houser was dangerously mentally ill, too ill to carry a gun. Of that, there is little doubt.

Over 16 years, Mr. Houser, 59, had been charged with hiring a man to burn down a lawyer’s office and named in a domestic violence complaint. In 2008, after Mr. Houser threatened to kill his daughter’s fiancĂ©, a judge issued a temporary restraining order and ordered him hospitalized for psychiatric evaluation. In 2014, he threatened to shoot law enforcement officers who were trying to evict him, then booby-trapped the house to start a natural gas fire.

His record was frightening enough that an Alabama sheriff refused to issue him a concealed weapons permit. But like most states, Alabama requires no permit to buy a firearm. His wife said she repeatedly threw his handguns into the Chattahoochee River, fearing that he would harm himself or others. Mr. Houser just bought more.

Holed up in a Motel 6 in July 2015, Mr. Houser wrote in a journal that Dylann Roof, the white man charged with gunning down nine black members of a historic Charleston, S.C., church the previous month, had the right idea, but the wrong targets.

“Thank you for the wake-up call, Dylann,” he wrote.

Later that month, Mr. Houser walked into a movie theater in Lafayette, La., carrying a .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol that he had bought at a Phenix City, Ala., pawnshop the year before. Ten minutes into a showing of the comedy “Trainwreck,” he opened fire, killing two moviegoers and wounding nine more. Before the police arrived, Mr. Houser put the gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
Mayci Breaux, left, and Jillian Johnson were killed at the movie theater in Lafayette.

After nearly two decades of expanding legal access to firearms, a succession of horrific shootings like Mr. Houser’s have refocused attention on gun control. Since the 2012 massacre of 26 elementary school children and teachers in Newtown, Conn., gun control advocates have scored some significant victories in state legislatures. Nationwide, several polls suggest that public opinion has shifted markedly in favor of stricter gun laws.

And for the first time since Al Gore called for tighter firearm restrictions in his losing 2000 campaign, gun control is a top-level issue in the presidential contest, as well as in two close Senate races and four state ballot initiatives.

“The national dialogue has changed,” said Prof. Robert J. Spitzer of the State University of New York at Cortland, who has written five books on gun policy.

Still, an examination of high-casualty shootings emphasizes not only how porous existing firearms regulations are, but also how difficult tightening them in a meaningful way may be.

The New York Times examined all 130 shootings last year in which four or more people were shot, at least one fatally, and investigators identified at least one attacker. The cases range from drug-related shootouts to domestic killings that wiped out entire families to chance encounters that took harrowing wrong turns.

They afford a panoramic view of some of the gun control debate’s fundamental issues: whether background checks and curbs on assault weapons limit violence; whether the proliferation of open-carry practices and rules allowing guns on college campuses is a spark to violence; whether it is too easy for dangerously mentally ill or violent people to get guns.

The findings are dispiriting to anyone hoping for simple legislative fixes to gun violence. In more than half the 130 cases, at least one assailant was already barred by federal law from having a weapon, usually because of a felony conviction, but nonetheless acquired a gun. Including those who lacked the required state or local permits, 64 percent of the shootings involved at least one attacker who violated an existing gun law.

Of the remaining assailants, 40 percent had never had a serious run-in with the law and probably could have bought a gun even in states with the strictest firearm controls. Typically those were men who killed their families and then themselves.

Only 14 shootings involved assault rifles, illustrating their outsize role in the gun debate. Nearly every other assailant used a handgun. That is in line with a federal study that concluded that reviving a 1994 ban on assault weapons and ammunition feeding devices that hold more than 10 rounds would have a minimal impact, at best, on gun violence.

But there were also cases in which victims arguably would have lived had they been in a state with tighter firearms restrictions, because it would have been harder for their attackers either to get guns or to carry them in those circumstances. That includes several of nine attackers who were dangerously mentally ill but still met the federal standard for gun possession.

For instance, Mr. Houser’s two forced hospitalizations for mental illness — lasting from one week to almost a month — did not disqualify him from buying a gun under federal or Alabama law because no court had involuntarily committed him for treatment. Yet in at least six states, his history of illness and violence would probably have barred him from possessing a gun or made it extremely hard to obtain a permit to buy one.

Heath Taylor is the sheriff in Russell County, Ala., where Mr. Houser lived and legally bought the handgun used in his assault. He said Mr. Houser should have been barred from gun ownership years before he opened fire in the Louisiana theater.

“The country has to address this,” Sheriff Taylor said. “I’m not for labeling someone as mentally ill for the rest of their lives, but there are warning signs that should prevent the purchase of a gun, and we are just not doing it.”
Background checks: Slipping through the net

In two earlier articles, The Times analyzed the 358 shootings last year — almost one a day — in which at least four people, including attackers, were killed or wounded.

For this article, focusing only on the fatal shootings in which at least one attacker was identified, we sought to determine whether those assailants legally possessed their weapons, what type of gun was used and whether tighter gun laws might have averted their assaults.

The fact that so many cases involved attackers already barred from owning guns goes right to a central issue in the gun control debate: whether background checks by licensed dealers should be expanded to include gun shows and private sellers.

To the National Rifle Association and other gun rights advocates, such statistics show that the current system has failed to keep guns out of criminals’ hands and should be fixed, not expanded.

Donald J. Trump, whose Republican presidential candidacy draws deep support from the N.R.A., has cited federal studies of state prison inmates showing that more than three out of four got their guns from friends, relatives or on the street, avoiding the licensed dealers who would check their backgrounds. During the presidential debates, Mr. Trump argued that tougher police tactics, not tighter firearms laws, were the remedy for gun homicides that have recently spiked in some major cities.

Hillary Clinton has noted that since 1994, when licensed dealers were first required to check potential buyers, about 2.6 million sales have been blocked to people barred from gun ownership. Expanding background checks, she says, will close a vast loophole in an otherwise effective law.

“We’ve got to get guns out of the hands of people who should not have them,” she said during the first debate.

Polls indicate the vast majority of Americans, including gun owners and N.R.A. members, support that approach. The debate is white hot in Maine and Nevada, where voters will decide next month whether to join 18 states and the District of Columbia that already require some form of broader checks.

It was virtually impossible to determine whether expanded background checks would have deterred the illegally armed attackers involved in the shootings examined for this article. In many cases, police officers never recovered the weapons, and even when they did, they did not always investigate where the firearm came from. A trace by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives generally shows only the original seller and buyer, while the typical gun used in a crime is 11 years old.

But a stronger law could arguably have made it harder for at least one gunman to find a willing seller. David Ray Conley III, 48, had already spent nearly 12 years in prison for five felonies, including armed robbery, when he bought a handgun online in the summer of 2015, according to broadcast reports.

A few weeks later, law enforcement officials told reporters then, Mr. Conley climbed through the unlocked window of his ex-girlfriend’s house in Houston and shot her, her husband and her six children, ages 6 to 13, including his own son.

A judge has imposed a rule of silence in the case, cloaking details of Mr. Conley’s gun purchase. He has pleaded not guilty.

Jennifer Baker, a spokeswoman for the N.R.A.’s Institute for Legislative Action, called Mr. Conley’s reported online firearm purchase an anomaly. “One case,” she said. “One case out of how many?”

But to gun control advocates, the example bolsters studies indicating that criminals are flocking to online gun bazaars where individual, unlicensed sellers need not check the backgrounds of in-state buyers. In Nevada, a study by Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control group founded by former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, found that nearly one in 11 shoppers on such sites was legally prohibited from possessing firearms.

Denying guns to the dangerously unstable: Is the bar too high?

Although mental illness is not a good predictor of violence, many gun policy experts agree that federal law allows too many people who are dangerously unstable to buy firearms virtually without oversight. It denies guns only to people who have been involuntarily committed for inpatient treatment, a practice vastly more complicated and far less common than in 1968, when the federal law was adopted.

A handful of states have adopted tighter restrictions, limiting gun ownership by mentally ill people who have been either voluntarily admitted for inpatient care, forced into outpatient treatment or held for as little as 72 hours. A few, including New York, require mental health professionals to report people who appear dangerous to themselves or others — information that can be used to deny them a gun purchase.

And in Washington State, a ballot measure, modeled after a California law, would allow law enforcement officers, family and household members to seek emergency court orders disarming people at risk of harming themselves or others. Three other states have similar but more limited measures.

Joshua Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said two decades of experience with restraining orders against domestic abusers had proved that such court interventions reduce violence. The N.R.A. disagrees, saying the Washington measure will strip gun owners of their rights “merely on the say-so of someone else.”

No such provisions were in place in the states where mentally ill gunmen carried out nine of the 130 shootings last year. Police inquiries into several cases later showed that family and household members feared disaster in the making, but felt helpless to avert it.

In Menasha, Wis., Sergio Valencia del Toro, a 27-year-old Air Force veteran who had served in Iraq, had quit taking psychiatric drugs or seeking psychological help after 14 visits in four years to military or veterans’ health clinics.

He battled alcoholism, saw visions out of the corner of his eye, imagined himself spraying bullets into a packed dining room and once held a gun to his head on an outing with his girlfriend’s family. He told a mental health worker that he contemplated suicide daily. According to a police report, Charles Peterson, his girlfriend’s father, said he had ordered Mr. del Toro to remove his firearms from their home, although he denied that in a brief phone interview with The Times, saying, “There were no reasons to take guns from him.”

Mr. del Toro’s girlfriend, Haylie Peterson, said he told her he wanted to rejoin the military “so that he could kill people.” Fearing he was a sociopath, she was on the verge of ending their relationship. Yet she did not report his violent tendencies to the authorities because “she felt it would not have done any good,” a police report stated.

Neither did Mr. del Toro’s psychologist at the Department of Veterans Affairs, even after reviewing a November 2014 disability questionnaire in which Mr. del Toro wrote that he had previously thought, “If I’m gonna take myself out, I might as well take other people with me.” He wrote that he no longer felt that way, and the psychologist, noting that Mr. del Toro seemed to be functioning well, decided that he was not disabled.

Unaware of Mr. del Toro’s psychiatric problems, the Menasha police hired him as an auxiliary officer in January 2015.

On a balmy Sunday evening four months later, a neighbor alerted Ms. Peterson to a shooting on the town’s popular pedestrian bridge. Immediately suspecting her boyfriend, she checked the bedroom where he kept three rifles, three shotguns and four handguns, mostly bought online. A semiautomatic handgun and a revolver were missing.

Drunk and distraught, Mr. del Toro had bicycled to the bridge, where a family of five was walking their dog and watching the ducks. He gunned down an 11-year-old girl, her father and another man, wounding the girl’s mother, before he shot himself.

When investigators obtained Mr. del Toro’s health records, said Aaron Zemlock, a police spokesman, “We were kind of dumbfounded.”

“I’ve been a gun owner my whole life,” said Mr. Zemlock, who recently left the department, “but this guy was a ticking time bomb.”

In Conyers, Ga., relatives feared the same about Jeffrey Scott Pitts. Thirty-six and unemployed, he was schizophrenic but refused to take his medication, his cousin told the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

After Mr. Pitts barricaded himself in a room, his father obtained a court order to have him picked up by the police. He spent more than a month in a mental institution, although court records suggest that he was never involuntarily committed.

He was hospitalized again in 2011 “because he was so crazy,” but was released the next day, his father, Miles Alan Pitts, told investigators.

“I knew something was going to happen,” he said. “I figured he would either kill himself or kill us.”

In five states and the District of Columbia, that first hospital stay would have meant at least a temporary ban on firearm purchases. But like most states, Georgia follows the looser federal standard.

When Jeffrey Pitts bought AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles, his father locked them away in a basement safe. But unknown to him, Jeffrey had also bought a Glock .45-caliber handgun.

On a Sunday afternoon, exactly four weeks after the Wisconsin bridge shooting, he burst into a liquor store with his handgun, furious because the store owner had accused him of stealing. In less than six seconds, he fatally shot the owner and a customer.

He might have killed others had Todd Scott, a customer buying a six-pack, not fired at him with his own handgun.

“He was very surprised that he was not the only one in the store with a gun. He got the heck out,” Mr. Scott said. (It was one of only two of the 130 shootings last year in which law enforcement officials said a legally armed victim or bystander had fired back in a clear-cut case of self-defense.)

Mr. Pitts then drove to his parents’ house, where he shot open the back door and wounded both of his parents before forcing his father to open the safe with the assault rifles. When Brad Lockridge, a Rockdale County deputy sheriff, confronted him in the garage, he was dressed in a bulletproof vest buttressed with a steel plate and was holding the AR-15, loaded with a 100-round magazine. He fired at the deputy, who wounded him with a volley of bullets. Then Mr. Pitts killed himself with his handgun.

“Should he have had guns? No, that’s why his parents took the guns from him,” said Mr. Lockridge, now a city police officer.

“But legally was he able to purchase guns? Unfortunately, yes.”

Assessing risk: The power of permits

Eleven states and the District of Columbia require a permit or license before purchasing a handgun or, in some cases, any kind of firearm. Most of them — and some other states, too — have broadened the federal ban on gun purchases to cover other high-risk individuals, including those convicted of serious, violent misdemeanors or drug, alcohol or firearm-related offenses, or anyone under 21. Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey also let law enforcement officials deny permits if an applicant appears to present a public safety risk.

Ohio is not in that group. So it was not hard for Barry Kirk to get a gun.

Mr. Kirk, a part-time Columbus, Ohio, ironworker, had a host of problems and a hair-trigger temper. In 2004, his wife accused him of punching her in the face, a criminal complaint that was dismissed after he underwent counseling. Five years later, when an aide in the governor’s office said he could not help him get unemployment compensation, Mr. Kirk exploded again.

“I guess I’m going to have to make a big boom or start shooting people,” he told the aide in a telephone exchange, adding, “I just want you to know this so when it happens and hits the newspapers, you’ll know it was me.”
Mr. Kirk had a host of problems and a hair-trigger temper.

Soon four police officers were at his door. “I asked Mr. Kirk if he planned to shoot anyone. Without hesitation, he stated, ‘Yes,’” one officer wrote in his report. “Mr. Kirk stated if he ended up losing his house, he would carry out a shooting.”

Mr. Kirk was arrested and pleaded guilty to telecommunications harassment, a serious but not violent misdemeanor in Ohio.

By 2015, his troubles had deepened. His wife had left him. A bank was foreclosing on his house. He had filed for bankruptcy.

Across the street, the Anderson family presented a stark contrast. John Anderson, 31, had started an asphalt paving company. His wife, Christina, 30, was studying to be an X-ray technician. They often hosted neighborhood barbecues. “Everyone liked them,” said Gregory Sheppard, a Columbus police detective.

Mr. Kirk was the exception. Mr. Anderson had briefly employed him but dismissed him, suspecting illegal drug use, said Tina Chaffin, Mr. Anderson’s mother-in-law.

On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, after passing a background check, Mr. Kirk, 50, bought a Glock semiautomatic handgun from a Field and Stream sporting goods store. That Monday, as Mr. Anderson carried groceries into his kitchen after work, Mr. Kirk burst through the back door, demanding money, then killed Mr. Anderson with two bullets to the head.

Seven-year-old Landon Anderson fled upstairs to his sister’s bedroom. His mother ran after him, locked the door and frantically called 911.

In a scene befitting a horror movie, Mr. Kirk blew out the lock and killed the mother and son. The daughter, Makyleigh, then 12, was shot in the shoulder and both hands, which she had thrown up in protection. A third bullet grazed her skull. Detective Sheppard said she survived only because Mr. Kirk “assumed she was dead.”

Police officers killed Mr. Kirk as he fled.

Like roughly one-third of Americans, Mr. Anderson kept a handgun at home, for protection. But like an estimated 99 percent of crime victims, he did not use it — probably because he had no chance to retrieve it, the detective said. Ms. Chaffin, who is now raising Makyleigh, said Mr. Kirk did not deserve the same gun rights as her son-in-law.

“I don’t understand how some of these people get to even purchase a gun,” she said.

Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, said requiring a permit to buy a handgun is perhaps the most effective way to keep firearms away from dangerous people. In the three years after Missouri eliminated its requirement in 2007, his research found, gun homicide rates jumped 25 percent, even as they declined nationwide. Conversely, Connecticut’s gun homicide rate fell 40 percent in the decade after it began requiring permits in 1995.

“It is just a lot more intimidating to go eyeball-to-eyeball with law enforcement rather than just going into your local gun shop to buy a gun,” Professor Webster said.

William B. Evans, Boston’s police commissioner, said Mr.Kirk would not have passed muster with his department. “When in doubt, I put the safety of the public first,” he said.

Open carry: Pushing the envelope

Although Americans broadly support some restrictions, like broader background checks, the ideological and cultural divides on others are yawning. Perhaps the best example is the debate over “open carry” — the right to display firearms, Old West-style, in public.

In fact, few states restrict individuals from openly carrying loaded firearms in public, although many prohibit it in specific locations such as churches and schools, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Until recently, however, few gun owners tested that latitude in urban areas. Even the N.R.A. warned its Texas members in 2014 that carrying rifles into restaurants and coffee shops “can be downright scary” and might provoke a backlash — before quickly disavowing the statement.

Increasingly, though, some gun owners are showing up visibly armed in crowded settings like political rallies as an expression of expansive Second Amendment rights, arguing that they are deterring criminals and trying to make openly carrying firearms seem an everyday, accepted practice.

To some city police chiefs, like Edward A. Flynn of Milwaukee, that is “lunacy.” “It puts everyone at risk.” he said. “Everyone.”

Mrs. Clinton has argued that cities and rural areas should be allowed to adopt different gun rules. But over the years, gun rights groups have persuaded the vast majority of states to strictly limit the power of local governments to regulate guns, according to the law center.

The open carry trend is new enough that researchers have yet to assess its effect on public safety. But after a sniper killed five police officers in Dallas in July, President Obama, the city’s mayor and the police chief all said the police had struggled to distinguish the gunman from law-abiding citizens with rifles slung over their backs.

And in Colorado Springs last year, open carry laws contributed to an 11-minute delay in the police response to Noah Harpham, a mentally ill man on a killing spree.

Although Mr. Harpham, 33, had never threatened violence, he was bipolar, had quit taking medication and had not seen his psychiatrist for about two years. By last Halloween, he had become so irrational that his stepfather took a plane to Colorado Springs, planning to hospitalize him, against his will, if necessary.
911 Call in Colorado Springs

In October 2015, a neighbor called 911 to report that a man was walking outside carrying a rifle and two small gas cans. Eleven minutes later she called back to say he had killed someone. The following clips have been edited.

But before his stepfather arrived, Mr. Harpham left his apartment, carrying an AR-15 rifle and two small gas cans. A neighbor called 911, only to be told by the dispatcher that Colorado “is an open carry state, so he can have a weapon and be walking around with it” though she did note that the gas cans seemed ”pretty suspicious.” The call was classified as not urgent, then upgraded to a possible burglary.

Eleven minutes later, the neighbor called back, weeping and asking for an ambulance. “I just called a few minutes ago and the guy came back out,” she said. “He fired a gun at somebody, and he’s laying on the street dead.”

The dead man was Andrew Myers, 35, a father of two and an Army veteran who had survived three tours in Iraq. Riding past Mr. Harpham on his bicycle, he had shouted: “What are you doing? You can’t be out here with an automatic weapon on the street.” Mr. Harpham shot Mr. Myers in the head, chest and back. Minutes later, he killed two women smoking on a front porch.

By the time the police reached him, Mr. Harpham was walking backward down the roadway median, a half-mile from where he was first spotted. After he fired at the officers, they shot and killed him.

Guns on campus: The new frontier

In 1981, Arizona was among 19 states that prohibited gun owners from carrying concealed handguns outside their homes, researchers say. Thirty-five years later — in a powerful testament to the gun rights movement’s success — carrying a concealed weapon is legal nationwide; eight states, including Arizona, require no permit to do so.

The next frontier is the college campus, where firearms advocates have mounted a state-by-state campaign to allow guns. Opponents argue that giving guns to young people who are still learning to make responsible decisions — and are often soaked in alcohol, testosterone or both — is a recipe for disaster. But the movement has gained some momentum. Texas last year became the eighth state to let students carry concealed weapons on campus.

Arizona has yet to adopt such a law, but firearms do have a foothold there: in 2009, the Legislature outlawed any restrictions on keeping guns in locked vehicles, as long as the firearms are out of sight. That overrode the state educational board’s broad prohibition against firearms at public universities.
Steven Jones, a freshman at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, shot four students with a handgun kept in his car. One died.

Steven Jones grew up shooting in pistol competitions under the guidance of his father, an N.R.A. instructor who ran a gun supply business, according to police records. As an 18-year-old freshman at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, he kept a .40-caliber Glock 22 handgun in the glove compartment of his red Mustang.

One Friday evening last October, Mr. Jones parked his car on campus while he socialized with several friends from his new fraternity, Sigma Chi. One of them later told the police that they knocked on the door of an off-campus apartment building where members of a rival fraternity, Delta Chi, were partying and drinking heavily — a stunt called “ding-dong, ditch.”

A half-dozen or more Delta Chi members ran out, yelling, and pursued them. One punched Mr. Jones in the face, knocking off his glasses. His two friends were knocked to the ground.

Mr. Jones ran to his car and unlocked it with a key fob. He told the police he was “freaking out” and could not find his keys to drive away, even though they were in his pants pocket. He retrieved his gun, loaded with 17 rounds of ammunition, got out of the car, flipped on the weapon’s attached light and pointed it at Delta Chi members.

“Don’t move,” he said he yelled, warning them that he had a gun.

Some witnesses said Colin Brough, a 20-year-old junior, took a step or two toward Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones said two students charged at him, threatening to kill him. In the dark, without his glasses, he had trouble aiming, so he “hoped for the best,” he said. He shot Mr. Brough just below the heart and in the shoulder. He hit a second student in the arm and hip.

The courtyard erupted into screams: “Why do you have a gun?” “Why did you shoot?” Several students tackled Mr. Jones and started punching him, trying to get the gun.

Afraid they would use it to kill him, Mr. Jones said, he fired into the air to drive them off. He hit a third student in the neck, just a fraction of an inch from a major vein, and a fourth student twice in the back, shattering his kidney.

As officers flooded the courtyard, Mr. Jones grew hysterical, wailing, apologizing and begging the officer handcuffing him for reassurance that he would be all right.

“I am so sorry,” he said. “I’m so scared. Can I call my mom?”

Mr. Brough, a gregarious business management major, died of internal bleeding in the courtyard.

“Where does the responsibility lie?” asked Kimberly Prato, whose son Nicholas was one of the victims. “Do you blame it on an 18-year-old who was given a weapon by his parents to go to college? I don’t know the answer, but I know it is out there.”

Mr. Jones was indicted on charges of first degree murder and aggravated assault and has pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense.

This year, a bill that would have allowed students and professors to carry concealed guns on campuses like Northern Arizona University died in a state legislative committee. Similar bills were killed in 16 other states, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Douglas Brough, Colin‘s father, said he shudders to think what would have happened had other students been armed that night.

“Are you kidding me?” he said. “It would have been like the O.K. Corral.”