Wednesday, May 30, 2007

From Cisco: Texas kids protest not being able to walk graduation due to failing state tests.

A perfectly fair and reasonable complaint. Until you take a look at the picture:

Note to Texan adolescents: You're not exactly helping the team out here!

Friday, May 25, 2007

SKOOL--It's funny--the last day of school, and I can't concentrate on any work in
front of me. That's hardly unusual. What's unusual is *why* I can't concentrate.

The kids are feeding me energy. This is not a "good" kind of energy, i.e. something that makes you knock down the walls you've come across, climb the metaphorical mountain, fight the good fight. This is the kind of energy that causes me to see how many times I can spin around in my chair. The kind of energy that causes me to lead a class of 07 graduates in a rousing chorus of Kum By Ya. And especially the kind of energy that makes me bounce my rubber ball off opposite walls in one throw.

I should be paying the district today for the privilege of being a teacher on the last day of school. It's just like being a kid, as long as you forget that you were ever responsible for anyone's education.

Friday, May 18, 2007

I must have this. What's $150, anyway?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I hate Mr. Roma

I'm having another professional crisis. And I blame one Rick Roma of the history department.

It's perhaps an inopportune time for plaudits, as President Bush uses the ruler of No Child Left Behind to whap the collective knuckles of my school district, but for once, the president isn't the reason for my reticence to accept praise. This time, it's a colleague.

Rick Roma. He sucks.

He's single, late-thirties to early forties, constantly gushed over by students and faculty alike. We're of a similar build and height, we both wear glasses, and we have a lot of students in common. They leave his class able to cite differences between European and American law without even cracking open a book. They send him cards from college. And you know what he says in return? "I'm just doing my job."

The nerve of that bastard.

Anyway, the last night of layout had my seniors in tears. Normally they're in tears because of an extendd run of late nights, bad food and even worse company. This time, they were crying because they didn't want to go. And they told me so. "I don't want to graduate--this is so much fun." "You've changed my life. You really have." "Thank you so much for everything."

Well, I'm not one to accept compliments. I thanked them, sure, but in the back of my mind, I was thinking, "Roma probably gets more compliments for doing the lit mag. If I were Roma, I'd be getting seniors dedicating their first novels to me by now."

Then my state-award-winning editor gifts me with a wind gun. I don't know what the real name for this marvelous contraption is, but in layman's terms, it's basically a gun that compresses and shoots pressurized air with all the precision of a sawed off shotgun. I've used them before--if you're good, you can blow someone's hat off their head from fifty yards away. Me, I can ruffle a phone book while sitting at my desk.

Okay, so it's a touching gift, but Roma would have gotten a perpetual wind machine. And a solar-powered gyro-thingee to work it automatically, made by a student whom he taught physics in his spare time. The jerk. I hate his guts.

This is the self-deprecation that runs through my mind when students and faculty are trying to congratulate me. After everything was over and I was done negating the compliments, I schlepped off to the banquet.

I won't go into the banquet in detail. Suffice to say, certain students perform at a considerably high level, and they ask teachers to attend this honorary banquet with their parents to show their gratitute. They pick a teacher who "had significant influence on them." I was chosen by a kid in my afternoon literature class. Bright kid, pretty quiet but friendly, good sense of humor, good writer (a self-confessed "synonym junkie," he makes a sesquipedalian look like positively economical). I started to swell up a little when his parents told me his accounts of my class (no need to go into it all here, but rest assured, I come off as a god)...and then I saw Roma two tables over. Three or four students had invited him, that's how popular he is. The jerk. What a jerk.

No matter. I was being honored. I got my picture taken, got a nifty certificate, shook a lot of hands and did some home-fried politicking with the parents and faculty. On my way out, I stopped in front of a mirror to straighten myself out, and there was Roma, right beside me, combing that luxurious mane of hair and flaunting his utter lack of fear of a receding hairline.

"Have a good night," he said to me. "Congratulations."

Can you believe the condescending attitude? What a jerk. He can go to hell. Good thing for him I was on my way out anyway.

So, Roma, if you're reading this (and I know you are, you smug bastard), I'm warning you. Stop fucking with my triumphs. Eat your humble pie and stay away from my business. Or I'll corral the several knuckle-draggers that aren't failing my classes and tell them to go to work on that big ugly head of yours.

I'll see you at the scholarship banquet tomorrow. Stay out of my way.