Public education and discipline

Recently, Frances Gallo, a superintendent of schools in Central Falls, RI, decided that she must fire all 74 teachers who refuse to abide by her recommendations for reform. Community sentiment seems evenly divided between those who support the firing decison and those who support the teachers.  One video clip showed a mother suggesting that the student would be performing better if the teachers were doing their jobs. This scenario is being replayed endlessly across the country, yet every time I hear this line of reasoning, I want vomit or throw large objects at the speaker.

No one seems to be talking about WHY some teachers can’t do their jobs. Let me lay them out for you: A) Student misbehavior B) Student absenteeism C) Undiagnosed learning/psychological deficiencies D) Insufficient/ineffective remediation E) Lack of parental involvement.

Once upon a time, when I was working under the leadership of a 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Samuels, as we discussed parental involvement and student behavior, she asked me rhetorically “Who learns for your child?” . I think this is the bottom line question – ask not simply what your teachers can do for your children, but ask what your children can do for THEMSELVES to help them learn, and how you can help them. A child is either a willing partner in the learning process or not. I wish there were video cameras in every classroom across this nation to help show what teachers really have to deal with every day. Yes. Teachers are there to teach, but students are there to learn. If they are there for a reason other than learning, then that is not the teacher’s fault.

How many colleges and universities accept the argument that it’s the teacher’s fault if certain students don’t do well? This argument seldom works well with tenured faculty. Usually, the student is asked how well he or she studied, and or perhaps whether or not the class was suitable for his or her abilities.

I strongly believe that we need to get back to suspensions and expulsions with regard to student behavior. Yes. Student behavior  that is counterproductive to their own learning and the learning of others should not be tolerated and its elimination would lead to greater academic improvement than the mere firing of  teachers or having teachers share lunch with their students.

Any teacher who’s spent an entire day in a classroom can tell you how necessary it is that a teacher have time to de-stress apart from the students and catch his/her breadth. Let them have a break from being a disciplinarian and being a teacher for one measly lunch hour.

I must also point out that there are many other ways to reform a school beside what’s been proposed in Central Falls, R.I. Recently, C.E.S. 90 in the South Bronx was restructured and divided into three smaller schools with smaller class size.  Why can’t something like that be done at Central Falls High School? Why can’t the top performing students be sent to better schools and the bottom performing students re-grouped into smaller classes and given extra resources? Maybe MORE teachers and aides, rather than less, would help them more than removing every one of them from the school.

Ms. Gallo will be faced with having to fill 90+ positions at the high school with qualified and experienced educators who share her vision of education. She will also have to face legal challenges to her decision to terminate all of the school’s staff. She will also need to prove that her replacements and her plan can improve test schools and the drop out rate. All of this is to be accomplished without any discussion of discipline,  student conduct, or remediation?  Good luck, lady, you’re going to need it…

Big Love Jumps the Shark

As FaceBook poster Marian put it:

“How much crazy can they pack into one hour?!?!? Adaleen preggers and Nikki not, Margie married to Goran, Marilyn in with the protesters, Lois using a machete to cut off Hollis’s arm!!! Whew!!!”

This was definitely the episode when all semblance of reality faded away… What drug(s) have the writers been taking lately?   Adaleen is pregnant from one sexual encounter with JJ, which happened after their marriage in last week’s episode. Adaleen has to be pushing 60, no? She’s Alby’s mother as well as Nicki’s. The rapidity with which she got pregnant is absurd. It’s equally asurb to me that either Nicki or Margene would want to have another baby. I thought Margene was re-inventing herself as a career woman. Doesn’t she  think being pregnant might interfere with her onscreen appearance??Nicki doesn’t have her hands full with JJ/Caralyn, Bill and her other two children? Barb now insists she’s also a “partial mother” to Ana’s child? I might see this coming from Nicki, she was compound-reared, Barb was not.

Several viewers criticized the severed arm sequence since they (and I) think it unlikely a woman of Lois’ age and stature could cleave through bone so quickly and easily with a single machete strike. I initially thought she’d stabbed him in the back, which would make a lot more sense for someone behind a threat to one’s child to do than to chose to maim someone.

The Marilyn Densham story is about the only thing that seems plausible and very interesting lately. It’s wonderful to see Sissy Spacek in this mildly villainous role.

One of my co-workers thinks the Margene/Goren/Ana storyline could morph into a potential romance for Margene and a re-kindling of affections between Ana and Bill. It’s not the way I’d want the story to go, but I think it might be an improvement over the schlock of the last episode. We agreed;however , that another possible angle next season is that Goren tries to divorce Margene and lays claim to some of Margene’s earnings as a high-powered saleslady. It could also provide Ana leverage against Margene & Bill if Barb and the other wives try to force themselves into the life of Ana’s child; Ana & Goren could move away within the U.S. and insist on unsupervised visitation with Margene’s kids unless Bill & the wives back off on trying to parent Ana’s baby. It may also come to pass that some combination of these storyline’s emerge only to result in Ana’s baby not being Bill’s at all, but that of the man seen leaving Ana’s apartment in the previous season.

In any case, the writers need to get back to creating more credible, fully developed and original story lines instead of giving the impression of having plumbed the depths of Soap Opera Digest from the 1980s. Seriously, a group of stoned freshman students in a creative writing class might have come up with the latest episode, if not better. Message to HBO: Don’t insult your viewers’ intelligence if you want to keep your audience.

The deathless Tiger Woods Story

The Tiger Woods story – the one that would not die…

I’ve actively avoided most accounts of this story and have commented on the media’s obsession with it in a previous post.

I think Mr. Woods said it best himself – “Every one of these questions and answers is a matter between Elin and me, issues between a husband and wife.”At no point during the unfoldment of this so-called news story did I believe, nor have I heard valid evidence to suggest that this was the business of total strangers.

Critics griped about him not taking questions from the press, but the only ones he needs to answer are from his wife and from himself.

Veronica Siwik-Daniels – this alleged mistress claimed that she was owed an apology by Tiger Woods as well, because she “didn’t deserve any of this.”  Has anyone asked Ms. Siwik-Daniels who placed  her in front of the cameras in on 2/19/2010 ? Could she not have simply gone about her normal daily activities or holed up inside her home and refused to listen to the endless circus that is the Tiger Woods story?   It’s not clear to me what she feels she didn’t deserve -if she really was his mistress and he really did tell her that he loved her – she was still well aware that he was married and had no reason to expect him to leave his wife. If she’s upset about the media spotlight, she needs to stay out of it. Thankfully, the other alleged mistresses don’t seem to have this difficulty.

Do we need another snowstorm in Washington, DC or another major earthquake to turn attention away from this non-story?

Good Wife – impossibly good!

I don’t know how the writers and actors pull out such incredible material and performances week after week, but this show needs to be on DVD and hopefully made into a feature film some day.

Why is it so good? Intricacy, on-screen chemistry, and unpredictability. In the episode “Hi“, we kind of thought Kalinda was on Peter Florrick’s side, but couldn’t be 100% sure, and we couldn’t be sure how she’d testify, but when she did, in a rather oblique, obfuscatory fashion, and beamed back at Mr. Childs after the judge granted a new trial, who could not help basking in the glow of triumph?

The legal reasoning behind Peter’s conviction seems increasingly murky – he slept with a call-girl 18 times. Fine, but how do specific sex acts tie in to specific cases which he’s accused of failing to prosecute?

Aside from the drama surrounding Peter’s trial, there the little matter of a murdered babysitter, and unemployed husband Jason (James Waterston), and a suspicious, breadwinning wife, Sonya (Sonja Sohn). The husband is the immediate suspect, Alicia and Cary are hauled in to help defend him at the behest of Diane and Will, respectively, and lovely Kalinda is assigned to try to uncover anything and everything they can use to point the police in a direction away from their client, regardless of his guilt or innocence. In the midst of this moral ambiguity, Alicia pilfers potentially incriminating evidence from a very soon to be declared crime scene (so hilariously soon after she arrives that she has to hide to escape the building undetected). Oh, and did I mention that Cary’s high as a kite for much of the proceedings?

The apparent emergence of gender loyalty over political correctness is interesting; Alicia has turned to Diane for advice more often than Will when given a choice – once because she was opposing a personal friend of his, but I think Diane is someone she not only respects, but trusts a bit more and now Alicia has earned Diane’s grudging respect. It almost seems like Diane and Will went out of their way to find opposite-gender proteges to compete for a position in the interests of political correctness, but inherent differences are winning out; Diane felt obliged to protect Sonya’s interests in this episode, and suggested that Will protect Jason’s. Just another thing to make me go “hmmm…” 😉

Who else thinks the judge who granted the new trial might have been the one Kalinda was talking about?


See? Who says TV can’t be educational?

Summary 1

“Bad” in re The Good Wife

Although there’s forward movement in Peter’s trial, I found it rather dull, despite the “Amber Madison” cross-examination – I quite agree with Peter’s lawyer who said’ “we’ve had quite enough of Ms. Madison.” Glenn Childs’ offer to Peter was interesting, inasmuch as it revealed a certain vulnerability on Childs’ part. It almost seems like Mr. Childs want the entire matter to disappear, which begs the question of why. I can only think it has to do with the cases that were not prosecuted in the wake of Peter’s absence. I have long wondered whether someone else – other than Mr. Childs has been pulling the strings all along…hmmm…

I couldn’t believe Peter asked Alicia whether she ever wanted them to be together again. WAIT A FEW MONTHS AFTER YOU’VE BEEN LIVING WITH HER BEFORE ASKING THAT! Duh!

Alicia’s reluctant involvement with the murder case of  Colin Sweeney (smarmily played by Dylan Baker-who reminded me of William H. Macy in Edmond) was interesting, but it seemed clear from the beginning that the amoral, flippant, and dissolute Mr. Sweeney lacked the focus to execute a carefully calculated scheme like murdering someone, disposing of the remains and cleverly framing someone else.

Diane’s plotline disappointed me when there was just a cat behind the door. Having her shoot someone or have a struggle would have brought this episode to life -(BIG HINT to screenwriters).  Underusing Josh Charles and Christine Baranski was one of the bad things about “Bad.”

Summary 1 of “Bad.”

Summary 2 of “Bad.”

Summary 3 of “Bad.”

New York Magazine interview with Archie Panjabi (Kalinda).

I wish someone would explain to me why Alicia hasn’t asked Peter why he fired Kalinda. It doesn’t make sense that no one has expressed any interest in this…

What do you wish would happen on this show? Please leave a comment.

Big Love strikes again…

Well, Bill’s having trouble on the campaign trail…His daughter’s being accused of baby-napping by the woman his wife Barb hit by accident with her car  – and Bill’s being investigated by the INS and has to explain why some extra names show up on the payroll…What does Bill do? He throws his friend Norm under the bus by having him confess to placing the extra wives on the books in order to get health insurance. Oh, and did I mention that his son Ben is fatally attracted to Bill’s youngest wife, Margene? What to do? Ben starts packing, Bill walks in and Ben tells him that he thinks it best that he leave for a little while, Bill cooly replies that he was thinking the same thing and walks out the door.

I can’t give Mr. Bill father or husband of the year awards, I’m afraid. On the one hand I do feel that he should have tried to talk to, and perhaps  more importantly listen to Ben more  sympathetically, on the other hand when a father has an adult son hot for his pretty young wife and both parties admit to an attraction – there aren’t a whole lot of options except to stop the attraction one way or another, or end one or both of the relationships – distance is often involved.

Margene’s on-camera implosion surprised me a bit, and I wonder whether she’ll just be fired or soar in popularity or both -as in she’s fired then the public clamors for her return, via that “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” maxim.

How about Alby’s stalking behavior? I just love how he’s playing dumb Dale. He’s packed Dale’s bags for his guilt trip in re the Junniper Creek affair – and taken insurance with that candid photo of the two of them in bed in the last episode…

J.J. and Adaleen?  I must confess that I didn’t see that one coming. Is this to team up against Alby or ? We know J.J. is a power hungry little bugger, but he’s talking to Joey and trying to get him to play some kind of higher role on the compound.  My money’s on Wanda and Nikki killing J.J. off at some point 🙂 Didn’t you just love their little commiseration scene, right after Wanda skinned herself with a knife, thinking of her sweet brother’s demise?

Jodean? Well, there’s a quiet rebel…she was pleased as punch that the birds Lois and Frank planned to sell escape, and previously she looked very anguished when Lois was scolding Frank about being a good father to Bill…Yes. I think Miss Jodean is rethinking Heavenly Father’s plans for them all…

What do YOU think will happen next?

Another fine summary…