Tuesday, May 24, 2005

In My Inbox

From the American Red Cross
Dear Chris,

Save three lives, and celebrate the summer in style! Donate blood or platelets with the American Red Cross this Memorial Day weekend and you could be the person to win a luxury weekend for two in Atlanta. All donor participants can enter a raffle for this fantastic getaway, which includes two tickets to a Broadway In Atlanta 2005-2006 Season Show, two nights at the Four Seasons Atlanta, two half-day packages at Spa Sydell, a $200 gift certificate to any Fifth Group Restaurant, and a three course dinner at Veni Vidi Vici (part of Buckhead Life Restaurant Group). The promotion will run at donor centers and participating drives May 27th through June 3rd. Make an appointment today!
Wow, they've got me pegged. I've always wanted to go to Atlanta but I hear the place is a real shit hole.

Monday, May 23, 2005


I can't find any links, but damn it, I'm pissed!

Some nice lady was beaten and raped in her house in Marietta this evening. The dude even took off in her car. Police are still looking for the waste of cellular respiration.

But at least they busted those scalpers this afternoon. Fucking scalpers.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

It's All My Fault

I do mind, the Dude minds. This will not stand, ya know, this aggression will not stand, man.
-The Dude from The Big Lebowski
Oh, yes. This puppy will not die.

Students are allowed to take liberty when interpreting explicit verbal instruction. However, I am not allowed to interpret literally the definition of what it means to plagiarize.

Apparently, there is no black and white. Only grey. Problem is, I only speak binary. 1's and 0's. Is and ain't. Same and, well... not same.

I alluded to this incident in a previous post. I am a victim of my own device. What I mean is that surely because robot projects are group projects, everything else is, too. Including those things that I explicitly state are individual assignments. My problem is that "it wasn't in writing." Okay, it will be in the future. Ruling still stands.

Students take liberty with permission to get assistance from peers. That obviously means that they can work together and turn in identical products. I helped people with programming assignments in my computer science class in college. I did not do their work for them, nor did I allow them to do or see mine. As a matter of fact, I probably learned it better trying to help people than doing my own assignments. Hence my permission clause. But that did not mean you could turn in photo-identical copies of an assignment printed at exactly the same time in my class. No way, sweetheart.

But four groups of two or three figured they could. The evidence this morning was that they had done it on an earlier project, complete with copies. So I must have created a classroom atmosphere of "cheating is okay." My oversight while grading a previous assignment sets "a precedent" and apparently cheating is a-okay. Unless I get caught and you certainly can't enforce it now because you didn't before.

My academic integrity statement is in black and white (see that coming up again, shame on me) on my policies and procedures that students and parents sign at the beginning of each semester. It is not something I just decided to do. Nor was this a "hey let's target a handful of students because I'm spiteful" type of occurrence. No, some of these were kids that I actually enjoy having in class, go figure. But rules is rules and word is bond.

Now it has to go to a meeting with an administrator. And if they want to change it, they can. They have the access privileges. I will not.

Can you call it cheating if you get away with it? Absolutely. Double positively. Am I going to change the previous grade that you fess up to trying to defend this one? No. Am I going to follow the school policy and write the students up for an administrative referral that goes in your permanent file (oooh) like the handbook tells me to? No, I prefer to handle small issues like this "in house." Small issue? Yes, it was a 10 point daily assignment grade that probably changes the average numerical grade by a tenth or two.

But apparently the comment in my personal gradebook is the problem. It's okay to give the zero, we just don't want the label. Especially for you to think so-snd-so is a cheater. I ask:
Me: "Have I treated you differently as a result of this incident?"
Reply: "No."
Me: "I rest my case."

Look, it may have been an honest mistake. It may not have been. I have no way of knowing for sure, but I do know my policies.

And that's all I have.

Not Guilty My Ass!

If Brian Nichols ain't guilty, then I'm the gosh darned Pope, I am.

Hey, where did this funny hat come from?

Monday, May 16, 2005


We're not talking Palm Pilots here.

We're talking about "Public Display of Affection."

To some degree, I'm okay with it. There are certainly boundaries. How do you quantify them, though?

Is hugging okay? Oregon says no. I say yes, but...

But there exist different types of hugs.

There's the hey buddy hug, most common among females. Guys tend to think hugging of this type means they're gay and they're right. Sometimes this types of hug can occur between members of the opposite sex as well.

There's the see ya' later hug. Similar to the hey buddy hug except used at the end of a meeting rather than at the beginning. Otherwise, completely the same. Guy-guy hugs of this type are also rare.

Then there's the I'm sorry hug, also known as the I know how it feels hug. Often used in situations such as displaying sympathy for that bad test grade, or maybe not making the cut for the swim team. This type of hug is most commonly initiated by one person and consists of one arm around the shoulder approached from the hug receiver's side. Sometimes, the huggers hand doesn't so much grasp the receivers shoulder as it does pat the shoulder, especially among males. It can have more meanings such as "hang in there", "it'll be okay", etc.

Then there's the I'm so in love with you hug. It's probably misnamed because it should probably be called the my hormones are raging and I really need some sexual attention from a member of my preferred sex because I'm so damned horny hug because most teenagers only think that it's love that's making them want to do really nasty (and fun) things to one another, but that name is just too long. These hugs are generally the type that I think that these PDA policies are aimed at. These hugs are generally full front-front hugs and tend to last for a longer duration than any of the previous types. For the really unabashed, it can also be accompanied by kisses of variable duration. Some keep it to reasonable (and sometimes cute) pecks while others tend to prefer the long, extended, probably tongue involved versions. At least the former tends not to make me lose my breakfast. There are other variations. There can also exist the front-back style, especially when seated together. Generally this type seats the male behind the female where she pretty much treats him like a barcalounger. These also exist while standing and are typically amusing when in motion as the guy looks really awkward trying to walk in such a non-standard posture as to avoid tripping over the companion's feet. I think that the hug policies for this type of affection is generally enforced to help the huggers better determine the appropriate time and place for their displays. Of course, if it's two hot chicks involved, I'm probably just going to sit back and watch instead because it's always the right time and place for that.

I am probably neglecting other types of hugs as well, but they are not as common among middle and high school students so I have omitted them purposely. But as you can see, it is difficult to draw the lines to distingush between the types. The lesser types are probably just "gateway hugs" that will simply lead to the harder stuff later down the road. So, obviously we need to institute the zero tolerance hug policy. "Just say no to hugs."

Unless of course you're two (or more, thank you Jesus!) really hot chicks.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

It's Official

Our principal is going to the new school. We're getting the guy from the alternative school. Yay.

The new school name sound like it's straight out of an Archie comic. Hillgrove High School. Named after the farm that used to occupy the same space. It may just be me, but it sounds spectacularly American.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Square Peg Dilemma

I expect everyone to agree with me. All of the time. If you don't, you're wrong.

Yeah, right.

Diversity is a big issue in the schools and in the business world these days. Let's celebrate diversity. And by that, we only mean diversity of skin color/ethnicity/sexual orientation and a few choice others that I can't currently recall. We most definitely, however, will not tolerate diversity of philosophy.

And the principal probably has good reason to fire this guy. He was stupid enough to put his disdain for his employer in writing. Several times apparently. But it's hard to tell with only partial evidence.

So we're working on scheduling for next year. Looks like I'll be teaching some extra physics classes. It happens to most of the qualified chemistry teachers. They get assimilated into areas of need (aka physics and most definitely never biology thanks to the astounding number of biology related careers that aren't teaching: number of biology major graduate ratio) because any doofus can teach chemistry, right?

My suggestion? I'll keep teaching chemistry. Let's hire this guy for physics. I already wrote about him.

But surprisingly we're actually short on biology teachers next year. Why? Because they have done away with the "Physical Science" class that a good number of 9th graders were taking coming in and are starting everyone in biology. Plus the ones that were coming in to it from last year's physical science. Don't worry, it'll only last one year during the transition before things get back to normal.

And in a similar vein to current events, I've got all of these over-anxious parents that I keep having to have conferences with because of a comment that shows up in my gradebook and consequently in the page for online access that parents have to view grades. It shows individual assignment grades and associated comments that don't appear on anything else, especially transcripts. But the comment is "plagiarism." A reminder for myself as to why the grade is a zero.

Directly copied and pasted from my policies and procedures signed by all of my students and at least one of their parents at the beginning of the semester:
Academic Integrity
Any assignment containing any plagiarized work will receive a grade of zero. This includes any work copied from another student or any other source. Regardless of the type of assignment (e.g.; test, lab report, quiz, etc.), you will receive a zero!

Can I be any more black and white? I mean "diverse".

Monday, May 09, 2005

Why Do They Let Them Out Of Their Cages?

Sadly, we still have a lot of these people around.

Even more sadly, they have to be from the Southeast.

Thanks for perpetuating the stereotype. It's becoming clearer everyday that I need to move my ass to somewhere else. Of course, it looks like they're willing to travel.

Friday, May 06, 2005

How Long Can I Last?

It's probably national news by now. I know it's a big deal in Atlanta. Front page material. A teacher fired for reducing a student's grade as a penalty for sleeping in class. It'd take me 40 minutes to drive to his former school. This decision has probably taken less to affect me.

I'll put money on the fact that our faculty will be addressed about this issue at least by post-planning in two weeks. If our county admin do their jobs on thier usual timescale, it'll more likely be during pre-planning next year. Why do I say that? They'd much rather tell us what we can't put into our policies and procedures for the new year than try to "patch" things from this year. To give an example of their timelines, all teachers were supposed to get a laptop at the beginning of this year. Then it was the beginning of second semester. Then they finally voted on it last week.

Everyday, there is less and less we can do as teachers to ensure that learning has taken place. We are supposed to be held accountable, but apparently we can't hold the students accountable. WTF? Me, I just take digital pictures when kids sleep in my class. That way, when mommy and daddy ask why Jr. failed the last test, I just pull out my portfolio. But then it's my fault for not telling them that a 17 year old kid sleeps in class because he can't be responsible for such things on his own apparently. And copied assignments, both/all people get zeros. Big fatty goose eggs.

Example: Students turn in photo-identical lab reports.
Them: "But we were lab partners."
Me: "Communism failed. The wall came down. You are an individual."

How long until I don't get to bust kids for plagiarism? How long until the admin would be happier if I just gave everyone a 90? (sad that we lower our cutoffs for grades, it was 92 when I was in high school 10 years ago) How long until my lesson plans get handed to me at the beginning of each week? How long until the admin interview students to make sure I followed them? Conspiracy theory? I used to think so, too. But now The X-Files is looking more realistic than reality.

Two candidates for science department head next year. Really three, but I thought the third was a joke. Seriosuly.

Candidate one has worked at the school for 18 years teaching primarily chemistry. Was here when the math/science magnet program started 5 years ago and was assimilated into it to teach 9th graders chemistry due to her amazing ability to connect with younger students. Develops Chemistry II course for advanced topics in Chemistry. Has been selected for Teacher of the Year and has been STAR Teacher for the last two years running. Has knowledge and experience working in the "main building" for 12+ years, the magnet for 5. Candidate's main objective is unifying a fractionated department and has the leadership skills and respect of the science faculty to actually pull it off.

Candidate two has been here for around 7 years. "Teaches" physics and astronomy, the latter apparently well despite at least one major misconception. Has no discrenable leadership skills, barely speaks English. Leaves student teachers alone with kids for hours during their first week (despite state's policy that an employee must be present at all times). Not only teaches physics poorly, but wrong. (distance and displacement are not the same thing, an electromagnet coil is not the same thing as a Tesla coil, no all of the lights do not go out because they are in parallel, etc.) Makes me think it's an April Fool's joke when announced as Teacher of the Year last year. (when I realized I'd never even want to bear that title)

Okay, I'll stop. Obviously I'm biased. But I think you probably know where I'm going with this and you already know who was announced as the new department chair this afternoon. I'll stay mostly out of spite, but I'll be damned before I let myself and my peers be micromanaged by a tunnel-visioned, ego-deficient, control freak.

The worst part? The scuttlebutt is that the pricipal is probably being sent to the new school because he's tight with money. Seems they had a little trouble at the most recent school. (see #6) You'll preach to me at the beginning of every school year that you admire loyalty and then you make a bone-headed decision for leadership positions AND leave?

It probably took more common sense than research to answer the question in this title bar.

Fuck it, I'm going home to have a beer.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Tuesday, May 03, 2005