Tag Archives: teacher life

Well. That was 2018.

This is going to be one of those yearly summary posts–some good, some bad, some whatever. 2018 has been another one of Those Years. You know, the sort where you’re flailing about at everything, trying to get things going and stuff just keeps happening…and happening…and happening. I made some book sales, found some cool new fans as well as kept up contacts with old fans, did stuff with the horse, and etc.

Not that it’s been a particularly bad year…it’s just been one of Those Years. Crappy moments and shining moments, all wrapped up together.

Part of the reason (besides politics which is absolutely horrific, horrible, crappy, ick, and I’m totally back in fretting about apocalyptic scenarios–well hey! I’m writing an apocalyptic book right now and the next fantasy book will also be apocalyptic in tone so I’m right on track here!) is that I think I really started kind of feeling my age this year. The area that has suffered the most has been this blog. Writing-wise, I’ve been chugging along, though not as faithfully as I would like. I think the sales of Pledges of Honor are finally slowing down…but I’m not going to gripe, because it has been selling steadily over the past three years, ever since I published it back in 2015. Sales still occasionally pop up for the Netwalk Sequence series, though no one really seems to go too far with it. I…have plans to do something about that.

Pledges did earn itself a Semifinalist position in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off. I had hopes for higher, but c’est la vie. A review is supposed to come out for it next week from one of the reviewers.

So let’s look at Joyce’s Year in Writing, Horses, and Health.

Writing:

I published two books and edited an anthology, for starters.

Challenges of Honor, the second book in the Goddess’s Honor series, came out in the spring. It hasn’t sold as well as the first book, but you know, things can change.

Blurb and linkage for Amazon here.

Linkage for Books2Read here. (Apple, Nook, Kobo, etc)

Klone’s Stronghold, a contemporary fantasy featuring a mix of supernaturals, cryptids, and family issues in the isolated Bucket Mountains of NE Oregon, came out in the summer. It’s not done as well as I had hoped; nonetheless I’ve got some ideas for a sequel to it.

Blurb and linkage for Amazon here.

Linkage for Books2Read (Apple, Nook, Kobo, etc) here.

I’m currently working on a rewrite of a previously published novella, Seeking Shelter at the End of the World. The new title is Beating the Apocalypse. It’s not going to look much like the original. I’ve added two viewpoint characters, eliminated at least one and maybe two deaths in the course of the book (though I do kill others), am at about 20k additional words, and am making it a MUCH more complex book.

I also edited a themed anthology, Pulling Up Stakes, (includes my Oregon Country story “To Plant or Pull Up Stakes”) and am working on a second one, Whimsical Beasts (which will include my story “The Wisdom of Robins”).

Pulling Up Stakes Amazon details here.

Short stories also happened this year. I wrote the following Goddess’s Honor tie-in shorts:

Return to Wickmasa (post-Pledges of Honor) B2R (includes Amazon), Cleaning House (post Challenges of Honor) B2R (includes Amazon), and Unexpected Alliances, B2R (includes Amazon). I’ve decided not to mess with loading short stories directly to Kindle but will load them into Kindle via Draft2Digital.

I wrote Going Gently for the Netwalk Sequence universe. B2R (includes Amazon).

“The Cow at the End of the World” came out in Well, It’s Your Cow, edited by Frog Jones. Amazon.

I have two new stories in circulation (“A Quilter’s Stellar Sandwich” and “My Woman Left Me, My Dog Hates Me, and There Goes My Truck”). I’m also marketing a novella, Bearing Witness, which is a weird alt-Western set in a universe I’m now calling the Vortex Worlds. I was originally going to self-publish it but decided to try my luck with the trad pub market so far. I’m underwhelmed, so it may go on the publishing schedule this spring.

Then I started playing around with Medium. I’m not very diligent about posting essays there yet, but I do have a few up. I’m also toying with writing a poem a week and posting it on a separate blog page. I plan to switch hosts in this coming year, and have temporarily set up a site on wordpress.com. I’ll be transferring the whole domain at some point here. Just works better for me than what I’ve been doing.

Horse:

Mocha turned 18 this year, and is fully a mature, opinionated mare. But we achieved a bucket list goal by winning a show series buckle in the local show series in the Ranch Horse division. So I now sport a genuine, honestly-won, silver belt buckle.

She was pastured up by the east moraine of Wallowa Lake this summer, so we spent some time riding the moraine and doing Real Trail Horse stuff. She loves it. One day she was edgy and energetic so I sent her straight up the side of the moraine (actually a fairly steep climb), with plans to sidehill it if she encountered problems. She didn’t.

She went into the winter looking the best I’ve seen her in a long time, her back completely filled out around the spine and minimal sign of rib. Nonetheless, she’s getting up there in years so I’m not pushing her. She’s let me know that she really, really likes the idea of gaming as opposed to rail classes but OKAY WE WILL DEAL WITH STUPID RAIL STUFF IF THERE’S GAMING (keyhole and barrels are her favorites). As long as she enjoys the notion of “turn and burn” we’ll keep doing it. We did our first winter lope under saddle a couple of days ago (it’s been a not-so-good winter for riding outside) and she was full of energy, ready to go, and everything you want to feel with a mature horse living outside 24/7.

Health and Other Stuff:

This is the year that the teaching stuff has pretty much gone away. I substitute occasionally, and will be teaching a writing class in February, but otherwise–my long-term substitute gig abruptly ended at the end of the semester in January, and I’ve not been actively drumming up anything other than writing coaching business. I think it’s time to move away from K-12 teaching–I’m ready.

This year I feel like I’m really starting to get with it in quilting. I’ve made two small quilts and a bigger one as well as several small wall hangings. I think I will start working toward art quilt wall hangings for the science fiction and fantasy market. Other craft work is “meh”. I do have a few fans of my jewelry but not enough to put much energy into it outside of the occasional bazaar. Well…I might start trying the science fiction art show circuit again.

Health-wise, I had a real wakeup call in the fall of 2017 when I had problems hiking because my hips were too tight and I had issues. Plus I was having leg spasms bad enough that I could watch them go in waves down my right leg at their worst. Things were not good. I hurt a lot. Not the earth-shaking, major pain-killer pain, but that dragging soft-tissue coupled with arthritic pain that no traditional doctor takes seriously in a woman, especially if you can’t/won’t handle muscle-relaxants for the soft tissue stuff. And then there was the persistent shoulder issues.

Then I discovered a shiatsu massage pillow. That led to acupuncture and chiropractic work in addition to my regular massages because I realized part of the relief I was feeling came from adhesions getting broken loose. I also got smart about living in the world of ice/snow and bought hiking sticks and Yaktrak shoe chains to reduce the risk of falling (still happens but not as much). I started using a neck pillow for any drives over two hours. Additionally, I started using CBD and THC topicals, as well as oral CBD. Things aren’t perfect, but I can move again. There’s one troublesome spot in my right hip which has plagued me for thirty-eight-some years, thanks to a fall while jogging, but it’s much improved from what it’s been over the last ten years. What’s even more encouraging is that I have the urge to move again. I want to work out. My muscles are tight on a three-day cycle, but it is absolutely not the same sort of thing as I was experiencing before.

I’ve also gone back to using moisturizer and makeup. Part of it is that I have an excellent source of mineral-based makeup here in Enterprise–Wild Carrot Herbals has their company store here (as well as their warehouse/manufacturing headquarters) and they carry a nice line of makeup. I went back to my favorite Elizabeth Arden Ceramide-based moisturizers and foundation. It really does make a difference, and the moisturizer holds up to a lot of winter weather. I do need to find something different for hot summer days, though….

In any case, it’s been a year. I’m hoping to be more energized in 2019–if anything, that’s my goal for the year ahead. I want to advance my writing, perhaps expand my craft work into art shows, and otherwise.

I’ll probably put up another post about 2019 goals tomorrow. We’ll see.

 

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Substitute life

So I’ve just finished a day and a half stint substituting in a local first grade classroom. While I’ve worked with the younger grades ever since I semi-retired, this is the first time I’ve done a straight stint with younger than fifth grade students. The experience was inspiring, affirming, and exhausting.

It probably also helps that this was a small town K-12 school rather than a larger school, with a class of nine students. Nine is just about the perfect number for this age group–enough to have a spread in student ability, but not so much as to be overwhelming. The teacher left me lesson plans that were somewhat more than babysitting, with the opportunity to do some actual teaching instead of cruising through worksheets, catching up, or something like that. Additionally, unlike my previous sub stints this year, I was working with reading, writing, and math–all areas of comfort when it comes to teaching (Art is not necessarily a strength, nor is live PE, though I don’t do too badly with the online PE classes). I got to do a little bit of problem-solving in working with students, and I think I might have helped them learn a new concept.

Basically, I had to introduce the associative property of addition transforming 3 number problems into 2 number problems (such as 1 + 2 + 3=6 into 3 + 3=6, 4 + 2=6, and so on). The students had been easing up to it but I ended up starting them out in the concept. The first day was…challenging, to say the least, with even the strongest students struggling with the concept. Tears didn’t flow but they were close.

On the way home, I thought about it, and decided to use manipulatives to help work through the concept. We spent about fifteen minutes and yeehaw! It clicked with most of the class. Seeing the understanding flick on was inspiring and affirming. I am a good teacher, and it wasn’t that hard to figure out–then again, back to the concept of nine students. Plus I had an aide, and we were busy going from student to student as they worked through the understanding of how the process worked. Plus we struggled through a word web for a writing project yesterday–but everything flowed nicely today, and students wrote good stuff.

The other thing? Happy, comfortable first graders have absolutely no filters, especially when first feeling out the new substitute. At this point I am really grateful for my past middle school experience because that means I have no problems being strict, firm, but also unthreatened by kiddos looking for boundaries. That lack of filters means that spotting the attempts to derail the sub were easily spotted and countered. And because these students were used to firm boundaries, when I held firm, they yielded. But I also listened because, after all, the first grade lack of filters allows the savvy sub to figure out who’s pulling your leg and who is honestly telling you about a classroom routine that got left out of the sub notes (no one can get everything down!).

Still, it was fun to listen to the kids as they worked. The whole group started singing while working on a couple of projects–once, the school song, and then, later, Jingle Bells. This was a harmonious group of students as well. Oh, there were dramas, but all the same, they worked well together, they played well together, and it was just plain fun to be around them.

All the same–we are talking about first grade students. OMG. The sheer energy they throw off, plus the energy it takes from the teacher to anticipate and guide that intensity? Exhausting.

It’s a lot easier to run herd on 25 grumpy middle school students, in many ways.

But it was fun–in small doses like this.

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Lots of stuff going on….

As usual, June is flying by. Between MisCon and 4th of July, it always seems like I’m flying around getting things wrapped up for the end of the school year and then jumping into summer stuff. It’s no different now that I’m working online instead of in a classroom. OTOH, I’m less tired from working online, so that’s a win.

The late spring meant we’ve been dragging on getting the garden running and getting in the wood. But at last, we got the garden finished off in early June and it is happily growing at our friend S’s place in Clatskanie. This past week in Enterprise, we did get two loads of wood hauled, plus horse show stuff…

But there’s so much to blog about and I keep putting it off because, well, who wants to spam the linkage? I’m thinking now that I need to write some things but just not publish them. The alternative is not blogging at all…and I am discovering that I really don’t like that option, either.

So yeah. Time to start writing blog posts and timing them. I will post one soon talking about the two short pieces I have available on preorder right now. I also want to post about politics, because I’m contemplating a few things. I also want to write and post something about a few things I’ve been considering about writing process that has solidified to some extent by now. And then I also want to blog about the horse.

Meanwhile, I’m putting this one up. Hopefully we’ll see a flurry of posting soon.

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Filed under blather, deep thoughts, personal life stuff, Uncategorized

Clam digging, writing, and online teaching

For the past few days I’ve been at a friend’s house in the Coast Range for the clam digging tides at Astoria. We’ve been working on building up a supply of fresh razor clams to keep in the freezer to nosh on the year around for both fried clams and chowder clams. The razors are the most flavorful and tender of the clams available on the Oregon coast, at least in our opinion, and while using the clam gun (a metal tube with a long handle and suction hole) is easier than digging bay clams, it’s still a bit of work. But oh, the flavor…

The other thing I’ve been doing while down on the beach is collecting whole sand dollars and pretty rocks/shells to use for art projects for fall and winter craft shows, combined with lots of leftover bead stuff. I have more beads than I’ll ever use in jewelry for sale, so I’m going to be doing art stuff with them. Crafts will happen in the summer, when I can sit under the pine tree in the shade and work on them.

Meanwhile, I’m still letting Beyond Honor sit and will get back to revisions sometime next week. In the meantime, I’m wrestling with a cozy-type gnome story that is being difficult. I don’t normally do cozy OR gnomes, so that’s part of the problem. But I started this for a theme anthology and sidelined it when other deadlines took precedence. Now it’s time to dust it off and get it finished. The conflicts just seem so small compared to what I usually write. Deep sigh. It counts, it counts, it counts.

I’m also putting in twelve hours a week monitoring PE and Health students working through online classes. It’s been a big learning curve for me, but it’s also been an opportunity to see how this type of teaching operates. I have opinions, but I’m waiting to see how it all shakes out by the end of the term before I say more. I will say, though, that in my opinion this sort of opportunity can be golden for some students but absolutely worthless for others. But we shall see.

At this point, I’m looking forward to the end of clam season and the frequent runs to the Coast (which will become garden runs) and the end of the school year, which will allow me to pick up some more projects. I’m hoping that things will settle down and I can focus even more on writing and editing. Keeping my fingers crossed that life doesn’t throw me any more complications…..

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Winter evening, Enterprise, 2/21/2016

10 pm. 34 degrees. Slightly tipsy from celebrating the completion of a graduate-level class I needed to take to renew my teaching license. Knocked off a reading unit and a test, two journal reviews and a reflection essay today, Test scores are in the 90s so I’ve aced this one, given that the complementary review of my first essay and journal review was–complementary. The original plan for today was to go riding with the barn owner, but things came up, so I decided to finish this class off and get it out of my way. Short-term teaching and testing gig ahead as well as working on Beyond Honor, all derailed by last week’s bug. Now I can face the writing with a clear conscience as my brain returns from whatever the heck it was that hit me. The class is all done now, and it’s a good transition back to braining for writing. Damn, don’t know why I ever dreamed of getting a doctorate. I can play this game well enough but–no, I’d much rather write fiction.

As part of the celebration I went out on the front porch to admire the moonglow on the Wallowas. While the forecast says partially cloudy, there’s not much cloud cover over the moon and the light is almost bright as day. A faint wisp of cloud hangs midslope below Ruby Peak, and I see other clouds hovering behind the peaks, but right now they’re not obscuring my view of those glorious, glorious mountains.

Down by Prairie Creek, the great horned owls are hooting. The barn owls over at the bed and breakfast’s barn break in occasionally, punctuated by brief coyote calls to the north of town. The bright neon blue and magenta of some kid’s hoverboard lights up First South Street while he talks to some other kid in a lifted diesel pickup. Then they both head their separate ways, the diesel chugging by my house before looping down and onto the highway. I hear it head up toward Joseph, loudest noise around.

But it fades, and once again I hear the measured hoo-HOO-hoo of the horned owls on the creek. They’re more consistent than the screeeck of the barn owls. A mallard duck sounds off somewhere along the creek. Then I hear a brief honking as something disturbs one of the Canada goose flocks, also north of town. Maybe Mister Coyote is finding an evening goose snack?

Quiet again. I huge myself while I sit on my stepstool, listening and looking into the night as the hoo-HOO-hoo sounds, regular as clockwork. For years the only way I could have this experience was to go camping.

Now I just have to step out on my front porch.

Were all the sacrifices and hard work to get here worth it?

Hell, yes.

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Ah. June. And my last week.

We had a little bit of sun this morning before the clouds blew in. I ran around watering everything outside, and will soon be watering the houseplants. Meanwhile, despite the coolness of the morning, I’ve got the house open and I’m enjoying the weather. Summer, Oregon-style.

It’s also helpful that I’ve gotten the office and bedroom cleaned out and organized into what should be its final form until we move to Farpoint. It’s now a working home office. I’m going to miss it, and will do my best to structure the Farpoint office to be very similar.

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I was able to find a good setting for my Welches plate.

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So now I have an image of what and where I’m going to be working.

The garden is also doing well. We’ve been harvesting green onions; in fact I had to advise the hubby that we need to save some green onions to grow into big onions (I have about 25 more sets to plant as we use up the greenies, so no big deal). The sugar pod peas should be producing their first crop, and the apple trees have maintained a good crop of apples despite the June drop. What remains is turning into good big apples, though apparently I didn’t clear the grass around the Gravenstein trunk soon enough to keep the scab away. Oh well.

The cabbages, cauliflower, and broccoli are growing quite happily. So are the green beans. The tomatoes are starting to flower.  It’s looking like we will have a lovely harvest this year, if everything proceeds as it should. I may even get ambitious next week and put in some starts for fall and overwintering crops.

And today is my last Monday at work. The last Monday I need to look at work e-mail. The last Monday where I look at the time and realize that I need to get moving, because the clock is ticking toward the moment when I have to get my butt to the car because I’m on a schedule.

Soon….soon…soon.

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Getting on with it

Part of the reason for writing this post is to get myself over the hump of my last few weeks at work. I counted down the days today and tomorrow is Day 30 with less than seven weeks to go; okay, now I will let myself count down the days on the board rather than let them silently slip through my fingers.

Not that I will be in the classroom this week. This week is Round Two of reading tests, so I will be in the computer lab instead, wrestling with the computers. Because of course today had computer drama. My work laptop does not talk to any printer but my personal confidential printer. Even when I ran the other drivers, it didn’t want to talk to it. Sigh. That presents a problem when you are printing out passages and needing to manage them in test site confidentiality. Nonetheless, that problem got solved. A minor glitch, but one that still caused some issues.

There are other things going on that I won’t talk about, but suffice it to say that not all is paradise in Narnia. In fact, things appear to be…well…sigh. Deep sigh. I had hoped….

Isn’t there a proverb somewhere out there about hope and foolishness? Or the foolishness of hope? I remember how the unease came over me when I fielded a summer call from work while driving through Illinois. I excused the unease, of course. Wrote it off to experiencing big changes. But what I didn’t realize was the effect of those changes.

Not that I could have done anything.

Anyway. Time to get on with it, to stop letting the pains of body and soul drag at me and slow me down. Time to do what it takes to survive these thirty days. Seven weeks.

I can do this.

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Of Writing, Teaching, and An Announcement (at the end)

TL:DR–announcement at the end. I’m evil that way.

So I’m kind of behind on what my writing schedule says I should be doing by now. Some of that has been due to things like, oh, um, work life, other writing projects, reinventing the work life, um, horse rehab life, ski life or rather the lack thereof, real estate craziness, um, reinventing work life yet again, and, and, and…

But most of the delays have been due to the plain and simple fact that I really don’t know what to do with Netwalk’s Children yet. I’m still figuring out why that is, but to a certain degree, the issue comes down to the reality that this book is a crucial point in the Netwalk Sequence. This book hands over the major part of the Sequence to the next generation; from Melanie and Marty to Bess and Alex, Sophie and Don. Plus friends and relatives.

Additionally, it becomes a turning point in the series arc, because Bess ultimately has to directly take on Gizmo. Not only does she defuse an immediate threat but she lays the foundation for further protection against the power that Gizmo represents. She becomes a foundational element in a human-digital fusion which has the potential to affect not just one world but many worlds. Bess transcends worlds…but as of yet, I’ve not gotten a full picture of what that looks like. I have imperfect realizations but they’re far from what I want. Yet.

I do have this image of a young woman with long dark hair, cinnamon skin, and high cheekbones gazing up as golden bytes flow over her, on a blue background. I have some idea of what that event is. But it keeps changing, even as I keep working and writing.

I’ve been ducking this story for nearly a year. There is a completed outline. It’s insufficiently reflective of current canon, and one reason is that I’ve spent the past year writing stories to flesh out the Sequence’s backstory. They’re available for free on the website under the Netwalk Foundations tab. I also have the illustrated trilogy, Dahlia, Winter Shadows, and Andrews Ranch. All but the last one are currently available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Google Play. I’m working on Andrews Ranch right now and having a lot of fun with it.

The whole writing world hasn’t been just Netwalk Sequence, though. I’ve also rewritten a couple of stories and managed copy edits for a short story and a novella. I have two short stories coming out so far this year, one in the inaugural edition of Fantasy Scroll Magazine and the other in Trust and Treachery (Dark Quest Books, April). My novella, Seeking Shelter at the End of the World, comes out from eTreasures Publishing in June. I’ve not exactly been idle.

But I am feeling tired. I do have projects to write. It’s just…getting to them in the face of the Day Jobbe.

Which leads to…Life In General.

I signed the final paperwork today. I am not renewing my teaching contract. After ten years, I’m not going to be going back to school in August.

This isn’t really new news. I’ve mentioned this in comments, and emails, and etc. It’s more of a matter of being tired, and tired of driving 80 miles a day, and tired of having to break off from a story because the clock says it’s time, damn it, and tired of being tired. Teaching, even part-time, is a physically difficult job. You are on your feet constantly, usually on tile-covered cement slabs. As a middle school teacher, you deal daily with the drama and agonies of early adolescence, and have to do so with a measure of equanimity and unflappability.  February and March are their own peculiar hells, and I’ve been experiencing those hells in a rather excruciating slo-mo this year.

I’m done with formal k-12 teaching for the moment. I want to leave while there are moments I still enjoy and savor. But I need to go. There are too many days when I hurt. Too many days when I am angry about what modern education has become. My ten years of teaching manages to span the effect of No Child Left Behind, and the taste is bitter in my mouth. No, better to choose the time, and go when I feel best. This year is a good time, not just for me, but for my memories of the place I have worked in and loved so dearly. I can make good memories with leaving this year–so it is time.

Doesn’t mean I won’t be a teacher of some sort or another. Even thinking about possibilities of some sort of teaching work that doesn’t involve a daily commute perks me up. I like tutorial work, and I’m a darn good remedial writing teacher. Heck, I like teaching writing, period.

But it’s time for me to move on from the daily classroom grind. What that will look like in a couple of years, five more years, ten more years–who knows? I get ideas all the time.

Where I go from here, whether that becomes Portland, Enterprise, or somewhere else–who knows. It’s a new adventure. The Next Adventure.

Onward.

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Looking back at 2013

I’m lagging a bit behind other folks this year in looking at what’s been going on in 2013, and, well, I guess that’s just the way things are these days.

So. 2013. A lot of stuff happened in 2013.

Professionally, I continue to see what it takes to recover in a school setting after several years of poor management. It takes a long time for a school community to renew itself after these circumstances, but it can happen. I took some interesting literacy classes focusing on the work of a major theorist in the field (Regie Routman) and found further support for the integration of neuroscience and education. Primarily, such linkages don’t come from “brain-based learning” techniques but through right brain resonances between teacher-student and student-student. I’ve also come to the conclusion that a certain degree of grammar understanding is key to developing higher level comprehension skills.

I’ve also developed a passionate dislike for high-stakes assessment and what prioritizing that does to a community of learners. Make no mistake, I think a single assessment and standards are necessary. But prioritizing tests and test-taking as the highest priority to the exclusion of the acquisition of other, necessary learning crashes and burns horribly. We are losing huge chunks of kids as a result of this test-driven culture. And that’s a rant in and of itself.

On the writing front, I’ve had some mixed successes. Several anthologies I’ve been in are doing reasonably well. I sold two books, a full length novel and a novella, to a small press. I brought out two independently published books and am working on more in that series. But I’ve not had the time to more aggressively pursue writing to the degree I want to do it. Emotions around the day jobbe, the fatigue of not only the day jobbe but the commute (80+ miles round trip each day) and the inability to keep on burning the candle at both ends have all interfered.

Mocha did spectacularly well (in my opinion) at this year’s show in September. She placed well and showed that she is particularly strong in Trail classes. Right now, though, she’s sidelined with a mild lameness that is tied into neck and shoulder muscle spasms. Light work seems to be helping, along with some massage techniques.

Skiing–um, well, no snow so far this year. I’m not enthused about skiing in low snow conditions and so the snow dances continue.

Personally–well, we’re looking at some huge changes ahead. Good changes, but scary, dramatic, and they’ve involved a lot of planning and worrying and agonizing. More on that later.

At least I seem to be reasonably healthy at the moment. It took most of the year to regain my flexibility from a hip muscle strain. My gut is still cranky but it’s settling, enough to give me hope that these upcoming changes will make it even happier. It’s amazing what ten minutes of yoga a day will do. My knees are making creaky and stiff noises at me, but I’m beginning to think that’s a sign that one particular pair of shoes have reached the end of their useful life, or else that I need to do something different for urban sidewalk hikes.

And so I march slowly into 2014, cautiously hoping that good things are coming. Just not sure about that.

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O.M.G. Teacher is ANGRY. Sickened. Sad.

Over this.

TL:DR on the link (though it is short and a must-read): in a nutshell, the Department of Education (nationally) is proposing to eliminate the 2% exemption rule for the most seriously impaired special education students, holding them accountable for the SAME “college and career-ready standards” that the remaining 10% of special education students must fulfill.

What the DOE is talking about here isn’t your neighbor’s kid with ADHD, or even kids with moderate to severe learning disabilities. Those kids aren’t the 2% being exempted here. For one thing, there’s a LOT more than 2% of those sort of kids, and those are the kids who struggle even now and are getting culled out academically in the name of “college and career ready” rather than giving them the support and training they need.

No. We’re not talking about those kids.

We’re talking about what those of us in the special education business call the “low-incidence disabilities.”

We’re talking about kids who may not be verbal.

We’re talking about kids with a functional IQ way below the 70 points required to classify a student as intellectually deficient (the new term for mental retardation).

We’re talking about kids who may be medically fragile ALONG with a cognitive impairment.

We’re talking about kids who may not have the life skills to functionally care for themselves, whose entire academic life is centered around teaching them those skills in some form so that they CAN be functional at their level as an adult. Whose academic learning focuses on safety words and signs. Who struggle with counting change.

The learning of THOSE skills is what those modified assessments have been all about. Measuring growth through the learning of the necessary skills these kids will need to possess in order to become functioning and contributing adults in society.

I’ve administered those modified assessments in the past. I’ve watched this 2% struggle. I don’t regularly work with kids at that level, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know about the challenges.

WHAT FRACKING GOOD DOES MAKING THESE KIDS TAKE A GRADE LEVEL TEST [email protected]!!

Because, make no mistake, that’s what Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, is advocating for.

Direct quote from Duncan, lifted from the link:

“We have to expect the very best from our students and tell the truth about student performance, to prepare them for college and career,” said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “That means no longer allowing the achievement of students with disabilities to be measured by these alternate assessments aligned to modified achievement standards. This prevents these students from reaching their full potential, and prevents our country from benefitting from that potential.”

Make no mistake, I support the notion of high expectations for all students. But this proposal, and the absurdity that Duncan’s quote represents, doesn’t move that 2% of students forward.

What it does is shove those kids out of the public system and back into the bad old system of separate, non-public, non-education in church basements. Make no mistake, what is going to happen is that some unscrupulous districts and states will quietly find a way to shed those kids who bring those test scores down, and by implementing value-added evaluation of teachers based on test scores, ensures a revolving door of special education teachers as they continually get sunk and dumped because none of their students can meet assessment goals.

Dear sweet mother of God, has this man EVER, EVER, seen or worked with that 2% of students? Or been the teacher struggling through the alternate assessments with these kiddos? Hell, has he EVER seen what forcing some of the other 10% of special education students through unmodified assessments does to their interest in learning?

I’m thoroughly sickened by the cynicism in this proposal.

This is immoral.

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