Education, Politics, Pop Culture

Rapper/Misogynist Pitbull: National Charter School Conference Keynote Speaker

That is not a typo. Pitbull, who, in addition to being a multi-platinum recording artist, is now a CHARTER SCHOOL OPERATOR! Because our kids deserve nothing less than an education sponsored by the man who gave us “Hotel Room Service”.

It gets better. Pitbull is one of the keynote speakers at this year’s National Charter School Conference, right up there with Secretary of Education Arne “I’ve Never Taught a Day in My Life” Duncan!

Badass teachers I can handle. Dumbass, on the other hand. . .


Education, Politics

Once More Unto the Sty With Rep. Lyons

Oh, Mackinac Center Mouthpiece Grand Rapids Press/MLive, how I love your predictability! First, Rep. Lisa “Running on Dad’s Coattails” Lyons makes a classic, Palinesque statement in a speech to the Michigan legislature. Next, her brain, completely unaware that her mouth was engaged, attempts to roll back said statement, but not before all sorts of non-swine educators released their collective wrath at a Save Our Schools rally in Lansing last week. Alas, she was nowhere to be found in the capitol that day, perhaps enjoying her two months of summer vacation.

Fast-forward to last Sunday, when Lupe Ramos-Montigny called out Rep. Lyons for her “disrespectful and offensive” comments.

Not a good way to begin one’s summer break.

Summoning her competitive spirit (which would be the spirit of the classic playground taunt, “I know you are, but what am I?”), Rep. Lyons penned a rebuttal to Ms. Ramos-Montigny’s column. Let’s take a careful look at it, shall we?

Unfortunately, the focus by several special interest groups in the days since the Michigan House approved emergency, bipartisan-crafted legislation for two school districts in serious financial straits, has been about adults instead of kids.

Shamefully, they also have done their best to twist the truth and mislead teachers, parents and others who are, rightfully so, focused on what’s best for the students. So, it is my pleasure to set the record straight, once and for all.

Heavens to Betsy! I’ve been mislead? And I’m a special interest group? I’m just an individual public school teacher (albiet a Badass one) who can think for himself without his union’s approval. Thankfully, Rep. Lyons will set the record straight, and in redundant fashion. Please, continue.

(T)he Michigan Education Association and American Federation of Teachers [. . . ] wanted even more, which would have protected bad teachers, lost enough support for the bill to pass, and left kids on curbsides instead of classrooms.

Points awarded for sad, manipulative image of kids on curbs. Alas, what the MEA and AFT wanted would not have protected “bad” teachers, but would have allowed for veteran teachers to have the first shot at any openings where their former students would be forced to attend next year.

Then Rep. Lyons rehashes the quote that got her into this mess (violating the first rule of criminal behavior: don’t return to the scene of the crime): “The amendment that is being discussed, and was offered yet again tonight – that was not adopted- was a double-down from groups focused on only adults, and they just wanted more. Pigs get fat, and hogs get slaughtered. I am done now talking about political parties and adult interests. I want to focus on the problem that these adults created.”

You’re “done talking about political parties”? You’ve got a freakin’ R after your name whenever it’s in print! But you want to focus on “the problem that these adults created.” Now, I know you meant the folks in charge of Buena Vista and Inkster, but let’s look at the all of the adults involved, including the ones in the Michissippi GOP who have cut public education funding on a consistant basis for nearly two decades. The adults in the Michissippi GOP who have put the burden of managing these cuts on local school districts, who have in turn chipped away at salaries and benefits of dedicated professionals who’ve had nothing/zip/nil/nada to do with the increased costs of education, other than to continue their educations (likely at their own expense) to better serve their students.

Your next move, Rep. Lyons, reads straight out of a mediocre high school essay or speech:

As you can read, I was clearly talking about special interest union leaders who were playing political games with amendments and the bills. I was directly going after those that sat by and let the problems escalate in these districts.

Clearly, it wasn’t clear. That’s why so many individual teachers (who can think for themselves without getting their union’s permission, thankyouverymuch) are more than a little ticked at you and your party. Let’s skip a couple of paragraphs for the sake of all that’s decent:

Funding isn’t the problem; mismanagement and administrative negligence led to this crisis. Hundreds of school districts across the state receive less money per pupil, yet they have managed to keep their doors open and the kids in their classrooms. Addressing this issue is not an attack on public schools as opponents argue; it’s quite the opposite actually.

No, Rep. Lyons, funding IS the problem. See above comment about how you and One Tough Nerd have decimated public school coffers while encouraging for-profit charter schools and the experimental EAA that takes in millions of dollars from the Eli Broad Foundation to keep its doors open (without any accountability). Is it over? No? Fine. Make your final point.

I proudly support Michigan public schools, and why wouldn’t I? I am the product of them myself.

Make it stop! First, you are not the product of the Michigan public schools, you are a product. Strike out myself because you’re getting redundant (not to mention repeating yourself) again.

Not only that, I send my kids to public schools, the largest endorsement any parent can give. Additionally, my sister was a teacher, my mother-in-law works in the public school system, and many of my friends are hard-working teachers focused on kids.

The largest? Endorsements come in sizes? How about those parents in Buena Vista and Inkster, Rep. Lyons? According to your logic, they endorsed public schools, too. Should Lowell Area Schools expect the same kind of treatment from you and the GOP that you gave those districts?

Which of your “friends are hard-working teachers” who agree with how you’ve consistently attacked our profession since taking office? Which of your former teachers?

As you can read, Rep. Lyons, clearly not this one.



Education, Politics

Of Pigs, Hogs, Public Schools, and One Lousy Metaphor

Representative Lisa Lyons (R – Alto), Chairperson of the House Education Committee, received quite a bit of press this week for comments directed at the staffs of the now-defunct Buena Vista and Inkster schools: “pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered.”

As one of her former high school English teachers, I’m glad Representative Lyons is able to use metaphors, but this one is particularly juvenile and not worthy of an elected state official. Take a look:

Former GRPS teacher and State Board of Education member Lupe Ramos-Montigny had harsh words for Rep. Lyons in today’s Mackinac Center Mouthpiece Grand Rapids Press:

I suggest Rep. Lyons go to Buena Vista, look every single teacher in the eye and apologize to them for her insensitive and mean spirited remarks.

Using school yard names to criticize dedicated teachers such as these, who merely seek to remain in the classroom demoralizes teachers across the state, further destroying morale that has been harmed by numerous acts of the Legislature in the past few years.

I suggest Rep. Lyons look in the mirror  and consider another pigs/hogs metaphor for herself and her GOP colleagues. To wit, Rep. Lyons has willingly stepped up to the Mackinac Center/DeVos/ALEC/StudentsFirst trough and slopped up all the empty calories those organizations provide in the name of education “reform.” She has wallowed in the mud, slop, and slime of efforts to remove accountability from privatized charter schools and the EAA. She has enjoyed fattening her political coffers with campaign donations from those same groups.

In 2014, it will be time for the electorate to take Representative Lyons and her GOP brethren out to the shed and put them out of our misery. Only then can true public school reform take place in Michigan.

Education, Literature

Random Observations On The 2013 AP Lit Exam Reading

Teacher, Poet, Performer, Provocateur Taylor Mali at the AP Lit Exam Reading
Teacher, Poet, Performer, Provocateur Taylor Mali at the AP Lit Exam Reading

(NOTE: The following notes contain nothing specific to the actual reading/scoring of the AP Lit Exams as this blogger would like to continue reading/scoring for many years to come.)

Eight days in beautiful downtown Louisville, Kentucky. I love spending my first week of summer break there. This is not sarcasm.

Imagine 1000 English majors in the same room, roughly 600 from academia, the rest from high schools, all working on the same task for one week. Cooperating. Collaborating. It’s a beautiful sight.

People pole vault in the streets of L’Ville on the weekends. I am not making this up.

The Louisville Bats could use a few more in their lineup. Pitching would help, too.

Noah’s Mill and Angel’s Envy are new faves in the bourbon department, but Blanton’s is still soooooo good.

The Seelbach and Brown Hotels are absolutely stunning. Next year, I will devour a Hot Brown.

The readers/scorers of Question Two are SO over The Rainbow.

The readers/scorers of Question Two have the most compassionate and caring question leader.

The readers/scorers of Question Two are jealous they missed hearing Taylor Mali read “The Black Walnut Tree” in his Christopher Walken voice.

Hearing Taylor Mali in person is a treat.

Seeing Taylor Mail in person is awesome.

Getting Taylor Mali to autograph one of his books for one of my students is just plain cool.

The next essay I score was written by someone’s daughter, someone’s son, someone’s student. I need to give it a fair and thorough reading.

AP Exam readers do that over 1200 times in one week.

I’m surprised so many readers smoke. How do they make it though a typical school day?

The food is great, so long as you’re not eating in the KICC. Doc Crow’s ribs, Against the Grain’s Sofa King Wheat, and Einstein Brothers’ $1 coffee refills satisfy both palate and pocketbook.

My table had readers from Florida, Ohio, Georgia, Texas (by way of Romania), Illinois, Michigan, and England.

We love teaching literature.

We fear for the future of public schools.

We can’t wait to do it again next year.