Sunday, June 7, 2009

Annoying Things of the Week

First, a note for the loyal readers (all five of you). I’m heading out of town a week from Tuesday for about three weeks. I plan to have an “Annoying Things” next week, but it will be brief. Then I’ll be off for awhile. Last summer I didn’t restart after I returned from vacation. I hope to restart this time, but in case I don’t, and to make up for the void in your lives over the next month, this is an extra long version, and I tried to be annoyed by just about everyone.

These are the top five things that annoyed me this past week:

5. The sun – Yes, the sun. That frickin’ light up in the sky that gives us energy and heat and makes all life possible. Fuck that thing. You see, for some of us, it’s a nuisance. And those of us are the pasty skinned, red haired (though I prefer Indian Rose), befreckled sun burners of the world. That sun thing gives us pain.

Of course we have two other alternates. One is to stay inside. I’m often all for that. I happen to enjoy my TV. But sometimes you have to go outside for things. And then our other option is sunscreen. Now I will say that modern science has been making leaps and bounds with the sunscreen. It doesn’t necessarily only smell like coconut or froofy lotion. It doesn’t have to smell like anything anymore, or might only have a mild odor. And it doesn’t make the skin feel slick all day anymore. But you still feel it. It’s always there. And worst of all, it’s eventually coming off. Especially the sunscreen that I gooped onto my forehead. About five or six hours after application, the sweat (and I can sweat – you all know that)and/or gravity is dropping that crap into my eyes. I want to start a petition to ban the sun. As I type this, I keep having to go wash the sunscreen out of my eyes. It's seriously getting in the way of my ranting.

And what's the deal with it going all super nova and killing us all some millions or billion years into the future? What's up with that?

4. Voices That Care – Yes, the crappy song that came out in 1991 to support the troops in Iraq or something like that. That song sucked.

While I would love to leave it there, allow me to add some context as to why I’m annoyed with it this week. For the last full week of school, I wanted to get into the 20th century. My first few years, I taught the history of popular music, primarily Rock ‘N’ Roll. It was fun, but I got away from it. I was thinking about bringing it back this year, but didn’t decide to do so until I found out that Boyd was teaching the same thing in his fancy shmancy Northgate cafeteria. I knew that I wanted to give a little more discussion to hip hop, adding to what I had taught several years ago. My basic idea, when I teach that part, is a general theory about why rap and hip hop had such a large rise in the 80s, making it so popular and (more importantly) so profitable by the 90s. Anyway, as I debated whether to add a seventh point to the six I already had (I chose to stay with six), I ended up reading a bit of Will Smith’s Wikipedia page. It mentioned that he had a line in Voices That Care.

It’s also the time of year for graduations. So thinking about graduations and the song Voices that care in the same instant, I remembered that a large group of us musical folk played that song for our graduation, Clayton Valley’s Class of 1992. I played bass. And that got me remembering – damn, that was really lame. And I was lame for not speaking up against it. What a lame ass song.

3. You – I regularly check out Ain’t It Cool News. Why? Because it’s a site for geeks, and I’m a geek. Every once in a while, for some lame reason or another, I check out the video they post by someone named Script Girl. If you want to check out the latest, head OVER HERE. In case you didn’t watch, or if you watched it like I usually do with the page scrolled up so you can only see the bottom half and with the volume turned down, this time she was talking about some remakes. In particular, she mentions Short Circuit. Yep, that 80s about GEM starring Steve Gutenberg, Ally Sheedy, and the lovable robot who thinks he’s alive, Johnny Five. Because YOU demanded it. That’s right, you. If you hadn’t it wouldn’t be happening.

You see, I rememeber Don Peavy talking about the movie. For those of you who don't know who Don Peavy is, you jsut aren't in the know, are you? So once again, you. But this weekend I did see a movie that was original and hilarious - the Hangover. It was good, and good movies should be supported. Have you seen it yet? No? Then once again, YOU. (If you have, then exclude yourself from this rant. And if you have but you didn't like it, comment on that, fool!) The things is, my crystal ball (singlular - the pair are titanium like Colbert) is telling me that a Short Circuit remake would be number one at the box office. Why? Because people are dumb. And you are a person. So I blame you.

2. Eighth Graders – but I sense their level of annoyance will drop significantly this coming week.

1. Teachers – For those not employed at my school, a large percentage of our staff members received pink slips. Several staff members have been demonstrating every Friday before school out on Concord Blvd, which is a pretty busy street from 7:30 to 8:00 in the morning. Last Friday, a few of those members chose to extend the demonstration for the entire school day. So on the outside, I enjoy a good demonstration. I was happy that our school was doing its part to raise awareness. But this particular demonstration, during the school day, created a great deal of negative feelings among the rest of the staff. I was one of the staff members who was not down with the methodology.

Before I continue this rant, I must say that while I wasn’t alone in being pissed off, I speak completely for myself. If you were one of the demonstrators and you’re reading this, these are my thoughts and mine alone – respond to me only if you take exception to anything I state (I might reference the office staff, but I DO NOT speak for any of them). And if you are overly sensitive, how about you stop reading right now? I’m not interested in attacking any individuals, as I believe that this was a horrible group decision. And finally, I’m totally over it. I’ve moved on. I didn’t take anything personally, as I usually don’t in professional situations. If you feel good about demonstrating last Friday, don’t let me change that. That said…

There was no warning for this event. Probably a few people knew about it, and I know that the office staff knew by the night before. But I wasn’t the only one totally caught off guard. I know that several people had talked about doing something big. (That’s part of the problem – this wasn’t big. It was big enough to make everything difficult and inconvenient for the rest of the staff, but small enough so that our office staff could handle it (though at the expense of everything else they should have been doing)). There are lots more little things about it that could have been avoided with early communication with the staff. But the thing about this protest that I really question was the TIMING. And that’s what I want to be annoyed with.

FIRST, you chose to demonstrate during the school day. Haven’t you read any of the negative comments about previous demonstrations? There were several people (mistakenly) asking why teachers were demonstrating while they should have been teaching. We could respond that it was only happening outside of site time. That argument is now gone. Yes, you all had subs. At about $100 a pop. About the same amount we were asking the voters to give us per parcel. Is that where we want the money to go? And weren’t the demonstrations suggesting that teachers weren’t expendable? When you demonstrate during the school day, aren’t you SHOWING that you are? Yes, we know that subs can’t handle the classes or the school the same way that full time teachers can. And that was part of the argument from the staff – but that’s the opposite argument you are showing by demonstrating during school.

SECOND, I’m wondering why you chose this Friday to demonstrate. The fourth to last day of school. You aren’t new teachers, so you know that the school becomes more chaotic as we get closer to the end. But you thought we could handle it with almost 10 subs. More actually, because you knew the eighth grade events were happening the same day, which I’ll get to soon (and the eighth graders who were already being left behind weren’t exactly the cream of the crop. I’m thankful that the only suspensions that day were seventh graders, though that shouldn’t be a shock). Was it because you felt it was the last chance to make a statement? You made a HUGE statement (and a positive one) last Monday with your trip to Sacramento and meeting with Senator DeSaulier. That wasn’t the exclamation point you wanted to put on the school year? And really, you couldn’t think of another Friday that would have worked? Perhaps a Friday that would have had all of the opposite effect from my first thought? Really? Here’s a hint – NEXT FRIDAY (for those who don’t know, Wednesday is the last day of school. So a demonstration on Friday would cost the taxpayers nothing and show an advanced level of dedication from the teachers).

THIRD, Friday, June 5, wasn’t supposed to be about you. Our eighth graders were your students once. They spent three years at El Dorado, and Friday, June 5 was supposed to be their day to celebrate their time at our school. It was their pool party and their dance. That was supposed to be the buzz in the morning. That was supposed to be the buzz after they left. It was supposed to be about them. Instead they were talking about the teachers outside. They were asking about what they were doing. Was that the purpose – to have the kids talking about it during school? Even if it wasn’t the eighth graders day, that still would have been the result. But it was. And they lost some of their attention. Not all of it, but we noticed.

One last note – why should I post this publicly instead of privately? YOU represented me when you were out there. Your demonstration was public, as is my response. I’m really glad that Claycord chose not to cover this event (as of the time I’m typing this, at least), because you know their responses would have been BRUTAL. How about we take a little time (we’ll give you about 10 weeks) to figure out what the goal of this movement is supposed to be and perhaps plan some things that will be positive and shed more of the good light on what we do? If the demonstrations continue through next year, I'll still be there (not holding a sign) if I'm invited. But the “it wasn’t our intent to upset anyone” argument doesn’t really fly. You knew it would make life difficult for the people working at your site, particularly the office staff. Ralphie didn’t intend to shoot his eye out, but the adults knew he would. Good thing he was wearing glasses, eh?

So what annoyed you this week?


Becka said...

What annoyed me this week?

I'm annoyed by people who use the word "disappointed" when referring to fellow adults, teachers, colleagues. The word is a bit too... paternal for me to take seriously.

As for the 8th grade students: I doubt they would have clung on to the protesting teachers once they were out of sight if certain influential teachers hadn't said things that fueled the fire. I will spare you the "not our intention" since it apparently causes the same gut reaction I experienced from the "disappointed" comment I heard.

That being said... I respect, in fact revere, a person's right to disagree publicly about things which affect them, so thank you for the forum. See you tomorrow. I'll be the one in my room teaching my kids what to say when you ask them what the Magna Carta was.

Daniel said...

Becka/Roy/any others that may read this and also attended the Friday demonstration,

I know that you all didn't intend to hurt anyone or cause anyone to feel left out intentionally (because that's not who any of you are, at all!), but, unintentionally, I'm willing to bet that you did.

When you choose to not include the ENTIRE staff in your plans, you create a rift amongst those of us left behind. You had teachers from every aspect of our profession-- people that have been pink slipped, people that have had their pink slips rescinded, people that are temporary employees, and people that are permanent employees. If I was a permanent employee, I would feel horrible to know that a portion of our permanent staff(as well as a portion of our pink slipped staff) was outside demonstrating. It would make me feel as though I should be out there to show support for my fellow educators. I would also feel as though the pink slipped teachers would feel like I, as a permanent employee, didn't care about their plight.

Do you see what I mean?

Also, having received my final pink slip, I can see how teachers could feel left out. I wasn't invited because it was the 8th grade pool party-- but Ernie was invited? Do you see how this can make people feel unwelcome?

Personally, I didn't and still don't feel unwelcome-- I am just willing to bet that someone from our staff that has been pink slipped and wasn't invited probably feels or felt unwelcome.

I know that we spoke, Becka, and I totally understand where you guys are coming from in your ideas that we need to do something so that people take notice. I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree! I just feel that in order to make a big difference, we need to have the ENTIRE staff involved-- not just a select few. If people are afraid of disciplinary action, fine. But what would the district do? Suspend every single teacher at EDMS? I highly doubt it. If they did, our cause would be even more apparent to the general public (50 teachers suspended will be a major headline for a lot of newspapers/blogs).

Also, I want to speak to your second paragraph. I wasn't irritated that you guys chose to be out there-- I support your choices as professionals. However, the kids were talking about it (the demonstration) on their own. As I started to walk my classes out (with Ms. Shedd) the students were asking why Mr. Cuizon and Mrs. Machado (and all the other teachers) were out there and not in their classes. Many different students continued to ask me that same question throughout the mile long walk to the pool. I never once brought it up or referenced any of the teachers out on the sidewalk to the students I was walking with to the pool.

To say that "influential teachers" fueled the fire might not be entirely true-- I can say this because I constantly tell my kids to be cognizant of their surroundings and to be inquisitive about life. Obviously, some of them are doing a better job of doing so than others. :)

Thankfully, I can now say, without doubt, that they have learned at least two things from me this year! :)

On another note, I really will miss all of you. The staff at EDMS truly has been like a family to me. From Bob (he would be the grandfather figure, for sure) to Roy (the older brother that picks on everyone equally) to Donna Baker(the older sister that moved out and you never get to see anymore)-- everyone has been amazing in making this campus welcoming and home-like (is that even a word?!). I will truly miss being here and can only keep my fingers crossed that I can return.

Kaboom32 said...

I also don't know where the comment comes from about teachers, influential or otherwise, fueling the fire comes from. Here is the extent of my statements to the students.

While waiting for the class we were walking with to join us, a few kids were talking about the teachers outside. They were asking each other which teachers were out there. One mentioned that they were the pink slipped teachers, but the other (correctly) responded that they couldn't be, as Mr. Haley wasn't out there. They asked me. The conversation was as follows:

Student: Why isn't Mr. Haley outside?
Me: Where are you going today?
Student: The pool.
Me: Talk about that.

The next mention was after the other class joined us, I was giving directions for walking to the pool. While I talked about heading to the signal, a kid asked if he could go talk to Mr. Cuizon when we walked by. Another student responded by also wanting to talk to Mr. Cuizon. I belive my reply was a lot like this:

"You will not talk to Mr. Cuizon or anyone else out there. You will watch the traffic to ensure that you don't get hit and die, then cross. You can ignore everyone out there."

That being said... I decided I'm not going to mention the Magna Carta next year, just to mess with their heads.

And finally, any perceived cold shoulders from me (or any of us, I think) at the picnic were entirely imaginary.

Roy said...

Part of being a responsible activist is taking ownership of the after effects of an event. I do take responsibility in what we did not see…(Pam having to do our attendance, adding to the morning chaos in preparation for the 8th grade trip, and making people feel left out). As Daniel stated, that is not who we are, nor was it our intentions.

What I do know is that we all supported each other all year long, especially since March, around the time the preliminary slips went out.

I hope we can all work through this to maintain the unity that we have. I know many of us already have.

Have a great summer everyone!

Anonymous said...

I'm annoyed that any teacher would publish profanity, would generalize their students in a negative fashion, "not the cream of the crop" and be critical of fellow associates who are about to suffer a fate that the author is spared. I have only known a few teachers over the years that have attitudes toward their students that have that tone and as they get older, they usually get worse. I recommend doing some thinking on vacation about your career choice or at least your tone. Please set a better example and be more professional.

I am not a teacher, not at El Dorado, and you do not know me. I was just included on a link, but I am a father of school age children and thought I should say something for you to consider.

Kaboom32 said...

Thanks, Roy.
I don't want to deter future action - I just want to be sure that each move is cooly calculated, just like the movements of a successful assassin.

Kaboom32 said...

Thanks, Anonymous. I was just thinking last night that I really want the guidance of an anonymous person in my life, especially one who clearly knows nothing about me or who I am. Please pray to da Jeebus for me.