Thursday, September 18, 2008

One Dreaded Thursday...

What a week. I absolutely love my students and am having fun every day. Unfortunately, it can never be left at that. There has been a pile of stress this week from a whole new direction.

The district has 400 less students attending school than they anticipated. At $8,000 a student, that leads to $3.2 million less in incoming money this year. Therefore there are layoffs. 24 teachers were cut this week, making up the 400 student differential. Unfortunately, that leaves $2 million still to make up.

With less kids, there will be cuts to things such as food service, custodial, administration, etc. But 2 million dollars? The scenarios for what to do about that many cuts are just scary. Our official count day is Wednesday, and our classrooms can't have over 30 kids in them. However... after that time if they need to they can put as many kids in the rooms after that point as they'd like, cutting more teachers.

Everyone is on pins and needles. We helped the teacher from our school who was laid off pack up today. People are cranky, as adding kids to an established classroom shakes things up. Some are switching their assignments completely, moving from Kindergarten to 5th grade or getting a split classroom when they had 20 just this week. The union has held emergency meetings, including a meeting set for next week. The topic: Unemployment.

So I'll wait for Thursday with trepidation, wondering if anyone is going to remember to do what is right for kids.

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Friday, September 05, 2008


I am following this election more than any in the past, as I'm sure many younger Americans are. I am very hopeful that change can come to government and bring a more positive outlook on life in our country.

I did not watch any of the convention speeches. I would rather look up voting records, platforms and plans to try to find facts rather than depend on delivery of a rehearsed speech to make decisions. I do enjoy the debates and feel it's easier to compare candidates on that stage.

With that said, I did read the President and VP candidates' speeches. I was most drawn to their comments about America.

From Obama's acceptance speech:

"Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story – of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren’t well-off or well- known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his
mind to.

It is that promise that has always set this country apart – that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well.

It’s a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect.

That’s the promise of America – the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper.

Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility – that’s the essence of America’s promise.

This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

Instead, it is that American spirit – that American promise – that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.

That promise is our greatest inheritance. It’s a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours – a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west; a promise that led workers to picket lines, and women to reach for the ballot.

And it is that promise that forty five years ago today, brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln’s Memorial, and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream.

The men and women who gathered there could’ve heard many things. They could’ve heard words of anger and discord. They could’ve been told to succumb to the fear and frustration of so many dreams deferred.

But what the people heard instead – people of every creed and color, from every walk of life – is that in America, our destiny is inextricably linked. That together, our dreams can be one.

“We cannot walk alone,” the preacher cried. “And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.” "

From McCain's acceptance speech:

"In America, we change things that need to be changed. Each generation makes its contribution to our greatness. The work that is ours to do is plainly before us. We don’t need to search for it.

If you find faults with our country, make it a better one. If you’re disappointed with the mistakes of government, join its ranks and work to correct them. Enlist in our Armed Forces. Become a teacher. Enter the ministry. Run for public office. Feed a hungry child. Teach an illiterate adult to read. Comfort the afflicted. Defend the rights of the oppressed. Our country will be the better, and you will be the happier. Because nothing brings greater happiness in life than to serve a cause greater than yourself.

We’re Americans, and we never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history."

From Biden's speech:

"My mother's creed is the American creed: No one is better than you. You are everyone's equal, and everyone is equal to you."

I also thought that this article made a good point.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

It's Official

I got the letter in the mail today that says I've graduated!!!

It's a little strange to graduate in August. For one reason, there is not a graduation ceremony now. The closest one is in December, and I probably won't walk in it just because it's so far away. Also, I completed five hours of class this summer but it was all independent/culminating project so I wasn't in classes and I couldn't tell classmates, 'Yeah, this is my last class!' I can't complain too much, as it was always my plan to graduate in August so I'd get the pay bump for the new school year.

The "I'm done" feeling has set in slowly. There have been three moments lately that I've really felt celebratory:

1) Going to the school district office to get the paperwork for my raise. The secretary said, "Yes, we need your transcripts by October 15 to get you the money for the entire school year". Money!

2) Saturday morning I woke up and was extremely confused. I didn't have to go to diving practice, but on top of that, I didn't have any schoolwork (reading or papers) hanging over my head. What do I do with free time on the weekends (other than watch football)? For three years it hasn't existed.

3) I returned the last of my books at the EMU library before my "classes" were done this summer. I had a 50 cent late fee to pay. After I paid that 50 cents, there was an incredible feeling of "I'm done paying EMU!" I was almost skipping as I went back to the car, knowing that all of my obligations to the university were taken care of.