Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Another offering from the Religion of Peace

I had previously heard of the torture and killing of three Christian missionaries in Turkey by a group of Muslims that happened a couple of months ago, but I never quite caught the gruesome details of how they were tortured and killed over the course of 3 hours! Let's make it known shall we?
Tilman was stabbed 156 times, Necati 99 times and Ugur's stabs were too numerous to count. They were disemboweled, and their intestines sliced up in front of their eyes. They were emasculated and watched as those body parts were destroyed. Fingers were chopped off, their noses and mouths and anuses were sliced open. Possibly the worst part was watching as their brothers were likewise tortured. Finally, their throats were sliced from ear to ear, heads practically decapitated.
I have no words.

Good Day to You, Sir

Dumb is the new Smart

Here is a blurb from the ACRU that will warm the litigious person's heart. A grandmother has enlisted the help of the ACLU in order to force her granddaughter's school to place her on the honor roll.

You see, the granddaughter is in special education classes, which means they are not as rigorous as regular classes, and thus, are not given as much weight when determining eligibility for honor roll status. Let's see if we can dilute the concept of excellence just a little bit more, shall we Grandma?

Good Day to You, Sir

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I'll bet Hugo Chavez is a fan of the Fairness Doctrine

It must be nice to be a dictator: If a television station says critical things about you, just shut it down!

Hat tip to Cox and Forkum (see blogroll) for the politoon.

Good Day to You, Sir

Shoebat enters the dragon's lair

A few months back, I attended a rather intense affair at UC Davis where ex-PLO terrorist and now converted Christian, Walid Shoebat gave a speech and faced off against a bunch of fascist Muslim students in the audience, who though they would have loved to shut the speech down, didn't have the stones to do so.

Tomorrow (May 30th), Shoebat enters the belly of the beast known as UC Irvine, which is in southern California. The Muslim Student Association at UCI is perhaps the most militant in the nation, and I would be surprised if they keep their protesting to silently standing up in unison and silently walking out of the auditorium like their fellow travelers at UC Davis ended up doing.

I will follow up on this story once I get the scoop.

Good Day to You, Sir

If you think the Chunnel is impressive...

... how about a tunnel underneath the Bering Sea that would link Siberia with Alaska? If they accomplished this estimated-$65 billion dollar project, you could practically drive around the world!

A trans-Alaska/Siberia tunnel may seem impossible, but the undersea tunnel that links England to France was once thought to be impossible too. If you wanted to build a route that spans the Bering Sea, I would think a tunnel would be your only option. Can you imagine trying to build, let alone maintain, a bridge across some of the roughest weather and water in the world? Remember, this is where Alaska crab fishermen do their thing in what is considered to be the most dangerous profession on earth.

Who knows if the Bering Tunnel (Bunnel?) ever gets built, but it's a cool idea.

Good Day to You, Sir

Time to crack some skulls

A few posts ago, I mentioned my out-of-control 3rd period 7th graders. Today was the last straw. Last week, I had previously warned my V.P. in an email that things were going to get ugly this week if things were business as usual. In the email, I was essentially begging for help, because I have done all I can do on my end, and then some. My V.P. wrote me back and told me to send 'em, no matter how many it took. It took two. Today, I sent two of my frequent flyers to the office with referrals after having given them ample warning to stop disrupting my lesson. After I sent down the second one, the V.P. and the Principal walked into my classroom a couple minutes later. My V.P. read the class the riot act, and then asked me if there were any other students that needed to leave. I pointed out three more who were on their way to being kicked out, and they were escorted from my classroom, making a total of five removals. And then, imagine that, I was able to get on to my lesson for the rest of the period, and the class was polite, on-task, and inquisitive about the subject matter. Up until that point, I had been unable to begin that lesson.

I taught my fourth period class, then it was time for lunch. About halfway through my lunch, the V.P. called me and said that the mother of the first student I kicked out was in his office and wished to speak to me. I got very excited because I have about 10 contact logs filled out on her kid where I called home, but I had yet to get a phone call back from this lady. I was soon to find out why.

I walked into the V.P.'s office with my parent contact log binder in hand, and the mother who awaited me told me everything I needed to know about this kid. The mother was probably my age, yet looked about 20 years older. She wore those stylish glasses that I have only ever seen black people wear; she was wearing a hip-hop t-shirt featuring an "artist" named... ahem... Yukmouth; and to top off her appearance, she had a prominent gold tooth. I mean, seriously, the woman was a walking cliche. But wait, it gets better! The mom started tearing into me about how her son may be "spirited", but he's really a good boy, and that basically, I ought to just cut him some slack, and that it was unfair that he was being suspended for the day just because he talked a little bit in class today. I calmly explained to the mom that her darling child was not being removed from class for one little incident today, but for a string of chronic disruptions that have taken place all year long. I then pulled out my parent contact log binder to show her the many attempts I had made to contact her regarding her child, yet I was unable to reach her, either due to disconnected numbers, unreturned voice mails, and in two cases, I was hung up on as soon as I identified myself. It was at this point in the conversation that my jaw dropped to the floor. The mom told me (and I quote),
I ain't got time to be returnin' all dem phone calls. I got nine kids and I'm a single mother, and by the time I get around to returnin' yo call, a couple days have passed and talkin' to [my kid] about it wouldn't do no good.
Holy Promiscuity, Batman! Nine kids? Single mother? Achievement gap, anyone?

Of the five students (all male by the way) who were removed from my classroom, four of them were sent home, and one got to stay, but he probably wished he could go home, because his mom shadowed him in his classes for the rest of the day. The V.P. told me we are probably going to get more bleating and blustering from these parents, especially if any of these frequent flyers get kicked out again tomorrow, but he says it's worth it, as these students don't just disrupt my class. It just pains me that it has to get to this point in the year before drastic action is taken; action that should have been taken at least six months ago.

Send good thoughts my way from about 10:30 to 11:15 tomorrow - I will probably need the support.

Good Day to You, Sir

Monday, May 28, 2007

Free speech for me but not for thee

See what happens when Uncle Jimbo from the blog Black Five attends a leftist "Memorial Day" rally and tries to film the speaker.

More hilarious hi-jinks from the hateful left.

Good Day to You, Sir

Memorial Day

God Bless the hundreds of thousands of Americans from all of our wars who answered the call and paid the ultimate price so that our country may survive another day.

Has every war, every cause always been worth the price? Sadly, no. However, that should never take anything away from those soldiers who have borne their sacrifice, for whether a war was worth it or not, the individual acts of courage were just as real and just as profound.

Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the ability to accomplish your mission, even though you are afraid. By definition, our honored soldiers are all courageous, for they did their duty, even when death was beckoning.

Good Day to You, Sir

Memorial Weekend Adventures

For the long holiday weekend, the fam and I traveled four hours north of Sacramento to the beautiful little town of Burney, California, which is nestled in the volcano country of northeastern California. My parents live there, and they needed a grandchild fix, while I needed a forest and mountain fix.

Burney is located between two major volcanos of the Cascade Range; Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen. The entire area is chock full of cinder cones and old lava flows. One of the results of these lava flows is a phenomenon called the lava tube. As lava flows, the top layer cools and hardens, but lava continues to flow underneath. As that lava empties out, it leaves behind a cave that remains closed to the world until, over time, weak spots form in the ceiling and the ceiling collapses, thus exposing the lava tube. One of the better preserved lava tubes in the area is Subway Cave, which is located about 20 minutes southeast of Burney. I had previously taken my son there about a year and a half ago, but he was too young to remember or appreciate it. This time however, with him being almost three and all, he LOVED it. A small part of me was afraid that my son would be too afraid to enter the scary dark entrance, but he didn't mind a bit! He especially loved climbing the fallen rocks at the entrance.

Another well-known landmark in the Burney area is Burney Falls. It is hands-down, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the United States, and it is only about a 10 or 15 minute drive from my parents' house. My daughter was home napping when we went on the cave adventure, but she hitched a ride on my back for the falls.

As a country boy living in the city, these trips to the mountains are what energize me and recharge my batteries. How nice it is that we can go up there and stay with relatives rather than having to spring for a motel room. I didn't grow up in the Burney area, but I have had much exposure to it over the years, what with running track meets there in high school and my parents ending up moving there in 1991. It is one of my favorite places in northern California, as it has that high flat forest full of Ponderosa Pine and Cedar trees, with little underbrush except for manzanita bushes and fallen pine needles. Here is a prime example of what I mean:

Can it get any better than that?

Good Day to You, Sir

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Lighten Up!

I am having major behavioral problems with my third period seventh graders. There are days - and today was one of them - that I spend so much time on individual discipline issues, that I never even get to the lesson.

Near the end of the period today, I had reached the end of my rope and just threw it out there and asked the class why so many of them were unwilling to behave, why so many of them find it necessary to act this way. One girl - we'll call her Sally - raised her hand and told me, "Mr. Chanman, you just need to lighten up", to which another girl validated with a bitchy "Thank you!" I replied to Sally, "When exactly am I supposed to lighten up when all I can do in this class is play policeman all the time?" Sally began to answer me, when two boys who are repeat offenders began loudly laughing about something. Sally yelled, "Would you shut up, I'm trying to talk!"

"Sally", I replied rather smugly, "You really need to lighten up."

Good Day to You, Sir

Monday, May 21, 2007

Christine is in the house?

In the Sunday Sacramento Bee (5/20/07), my post about Christine Craft's rejoicing over the death of Jerry Falwell was featured in the blog feature within the Forum section. Today, I got a comment in that post from an anonymous commenter who signed at the bottom with the name of Christine Craft. Was it her? Probably, but who knows for sure?

Whatever the case, the commenter's response was a devastating attack on my points made about Craft's abuse of the dead Falwell; I mean she really shot me down hardcore. Her compelling retort was,

This guy is a "teacher""" and he can't spell "ghoulish" that is "ghoulish!

Christine Craft

I don't know what I was thinking, I don't know how it happened, but the damage has been done. Obviously, my entire point about Falwell and Craft is now negated because I misspelled "ghoulish".

My response was the following:

That is your retort? That I misspelled "ghoulish"? Wow! What a fiery intellect you have; you really put me in my place.

If this really is you, Christine, then you actually are as shallow and petty as you come across on the radio.

The woman is a radio talk show host in a top-20 market, and she doesn't even know how to debate. Now THAT is ghoulish.

So I guess Mizz Craft was unable to answer any of my actual arguments, so she decided to attack my sole misspelled word in the post. Good comeback, Christine! And you wonder why left-wing programming like Air America is crashing and burning.

By the way, Christine, I just noticed that you wrote, "This guy is a "teacher"""" Isn't that two too many quote marks? And you missed using a quote mark the second time you used the word "ghoulish". See? I can argue like you, too. Isn't that impressive?

Good Day to You, Sir

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Just another day at the office

So, I need someone out there to ask me how my day went... ... ... Hey! Funny you should ask. It started out as such a quiet morning on campus. I had a few minutes before first period and our final round of STAR testing was about to begin, I was in the copy room making a transparency for my 7th graders, then walked out the door of the admin building and into Hell. Rather than tell the story from scratch, I will simply attach the email that I sent to my principal after the incident was over. I so earned my teacher pay today.
Please consider this email as a memorandum for record regarding the incident herein described:

On 5/17/2007, at or about 0850 hours, I had just finished making a transparency in the copy room and was exiting the administration building through the east door next to [the counselor's] office. Upon stepping outside, I observed a large crowd of shouting students gathered at the southeast corner of the administration building. The students were surrounding two girls engaged in very violent mutual combat, grabbing and punching each other. I dropped my copied documents and ran to the crowd, making my way through the gathered students in order to break up the two girls engaged in the fight.

At that moment, the two girls were locked together with their arms as they punched each other, so I forcefully shoved my way between them in an effort to keep them apart. The two girls did not disengage, and continued to try to get at each other even though I was in between them. At the same time, I kept yelling over and over, "Separate! Separate!" Rather than separating, the two girls continued to go after each other even though I was caught between them. Finally, all three of us lost our balance and fell to the sidewalk. My right knee hit the ground first, then I landed on my right side. One of the girls (the bigger of the two) landed on her back beside me, and may have struck the back of her head on the sidewalk.

At this point, the smaller girl disengaged and ran away, but the bigger girl who had landed on her back got up and immediately charged toward the smaller girl in an effort to reengage in the fight. I yelled to some of the teachers who had arrived on scene to secure the bigger girl as she was trying to continue the fight and I got up and began to pursue the bigger girl. At that moment, a significant amount of pain shot through my right knee and I dropped to the sidewalk in front of the east entrance to the administration building. Some fellow staff members helped me to my feet and assisted me into the administration building. Another staff member arrived in the hallway with a wheelchair and I was rolled into the nurses office where she cleaned a small abrasion on my knee and cleaned and gave me a band-aid for a bleeding abrasion on my left middle finger. The nurse then gave me some ice for my knee and asked me if I was OK to walk to class or did I want to stay off my feet. The pain in my knee had reduced in intensity by then, so I elected to walk the short distance to my classroom in order to carry out the STAR testing for the day.

In the interest of being thorough regarding my injuries, at the time of this writing (0934 hours), the left side of my neck is beginning to become stiff and sore. I will monitor it to see if it's nothing or if it gets worse.
I had a noticeable limp for the rest of today, but tonight as I write this post, the pain in my knee has subsided considerably; now it just feels kind of stiff and creaky. However, the rest of me feels like I was in a moderate fender bender. My neck, shoulders, right side of my torso, and right wrist have the same feeling as if I slept on them wrong all night long. I don't think I have any serious injuries, but don't worry, I am going through the whole paperwork rigamarole with the District just to cover my and their derriere.

As for the two girls, I talked to my VP after school and he informed me that they had both been suspended for five days. The bigger girl who tried to keep the fight going has now reached the number of accrued suspension days required to begin expulsion proceedings. Apparently, she already has her very own parole officer. A freakin' seventh grade girl with a parole officer! What has this country come to?

I was happy that both the Principal and VP thanked me profusely for intervening and expressed their sincere regret for my injuries, and one my fellow teachers has now taken to calling me "Slugger". Just another day at the office...

Good Day to You, Sir

Don Imus, eat your heart out!

Warning: bad language, dead ahead!

I guess it's racial hypocrisy night at Buckhorn Road. Shortly after finishing up my previous post about the Knoxville murder case, I came across this column at Real Clear Politics (see blogroll for RCP).

To sum up the article before I paste some excerpts, Elizabeth Kandrac, a white middle school teacher in South Carolina, became so fed up with her administration's unwillingness to protect her from racially charged verbal and physical assaults at the hands of her black students, that she finally filed an EEOC complaint against the school. Then the legal fireworks began. I highly recommend you read the entire piece, but here are some juicy literary bites. Any emphasis is mine, and in the spirit of not sugar-coating reality, I have filled in the dashed lines that the author used when quoting the students' bad language that was directed at the teacher, so this is your official cursing alert:
Let's be clear: What these children called this teacher is beyond reprehensible and could be only be construed as hostile and threatening. Here's a sample: white b[itch], white m[other] f[ucker], white c[unt], white a[sshole], white ho.

Other white teachers and students corroborated Kandrac's account, including a male war veteran who testified he would rather return to Vietnam than to Brentwood [Middle School]...

Nevertheless, despite frequent complaints, school officials did nothing to intervene on Kandrac's behalf, arguing that the racially charged profanity was simply part of the students' culture. If Kandrac couldn't handle cursing, school officials told her, she was in the wrong school...

Here's what we know without question: If majority white students had used similar language toward black students and teachers, the case would have been plastered on the front page of The New York Times until heads rolled...
And the juiciest quote of all; the point I continually try to make when I write about cases such as these:
And the worst racists are those teachers and administrators who denied these empowered brats the expectation of civilized behavior.
I bring this up every time against my commentors who try to slime me with the racist label when I dare to speak of these matters. What could be more racist than the low expectations of behavior for these black students? It's just a part of their culture?! Is that the best that you think they are capable of accomplishing? I think those students are capable of accomplishing more than many care to give credit. So who's the racist?

Good Day to You, Sir

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Don't bother me, I'm following the Duke Rape Case

Again and again, the double standards of the mainstream media astound me. When it comes to horrific crimes that make the national news, by and large they tend to be crimes that fit a certain template: white male kills or seriously violates a protected minority. I'm sure you will easily recognize media-obsessed cases such as the robbery and killing of Mathew Shepard in Wyoming in 1998; the dragging death of James Byrd in Jasper, Texas, also in 1998; the Duke (non) rape case that was recently concluded.

Have you ever heard of the 2000 Wichita Horror case, in which five whites were brutally raped, robbed, tortured, and shot in the head execution-style by two black siblings? How about the 2002 murder of Ken Tillery in Jasper, Texas that eerily copied the murder of James Byrd, only this time, it was the white Tillery being beaten and run over with a truck by four black men. Where was the news coverage there? With few, if any, exceptions, murders of whites at the hands of blacks do not make the national news, while the names of black victims murdered at the hands of whites often become part of the national lexicon (e.g., James Byrd).

This pattern of media blackout (no pun intended) of politically incorrect crimes has occurred again, and the alternative media and the blogosphere are beginning to make the story gain steam, even if the mainstream press (yes lefties, including Fox News) continue to ignore it.

Here are the victims, Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom:

On the night of January 6, 2007, the 23 year old Newsom and the 21 year old Christian were out on a date in Knoxville, Tennessee when they were carjacked by five thugs. The couple was driven back to the abode of one of the thugs, where for the next several days, the couple was raped and tortured. Finally, while Christian was forced to watch, Newsom's penis was cut off and then he was shot and killed, doused with gasoline, and set on fire. His body was later found along some railroad tracks. Channon Christian was raped and tortured some more, and urinated upon, before at least one of her breasts was cut off, and she was made to swallow bleach in order to clean any DNA from her mouth and throat. She was then killed and dismembered. Investigators found Christian's body parts in five different trash cans throughout the house. Keep in mind, this torture, rape, and abuse went on for days before the couple was finally murdered.

With such a wanton and brutal story like this, you can easily imagine it making the national news, yet outside of Knoxville, nary a peep has been heard. Why? Perhaps a peek at the (alleged) perpetrators might give you an answer.

Now for the part that makes the mainstream media presumably squirm in their chairs; here are the suspects who have been arrested and charged in the murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom:

Ouch! Now this does not fit the preferred template. In the twisted minds of the mainstream media, only white-on-black crime should be reported nationally, even though white-on-black crime represents only about 10-15 percent of all interracial violence, and remember, there are still a lot more whites in this country than blacks, making those numbers even more skewed.

It is an ugly truth that between 85-90 percent of all interracial violence involves a black perpetrator and a white victim. Yet to watch the mainstream media, you would think that the reality is in reverse. The non-reporting of this brutal murder is a perfect example of this media blackout. Imagine the facts of this case being identical in every way except for the race of those involved. Imagine the picture of the murdered couple being two black faces and the picture of the five suspects being that of five white males and a white female. Do you think that this would be a national news story then? Do you think those racist gasbags, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, would have already swooped down upon Knoxville like the race-baiting vultures they are in order to whip up a frenzy? A better question is, why didn't Jackson and Sharpton swoop into Knoxville anyway? Was this double torture/rape/murder not worthy enough for their attention? Nope, the Revs were too busy with the (non) rape case in North Carolina. You see, that story fit their template. Too bad for them that it was bogus.

Good Day to You, Sir

It's Carnival time!

The latest Carnival of Education is up and running, and according to them, Buckhorn Road has some "common sense (and humorous)" advice to would-be edu-strikers.

Good Day to You, Sir

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The face of evil in action

It's hard to watch, but this surveillance video of a 22 year old piece of rat filth mercilessly beating a 91 year old man in a carjacking gives a good indication of the kind of super predators that roam our streets today. Watch closely as the rat filth punches the old man one more time, even though rat filth has already acquired the car keys.

As an added bonus, check out the ridiculous pimp-daddy garb worn by the attacker. Stuff like this makes me want to take the fam and move to a mountaintop cabin in Montana.

Good Day to You, Sir

Falwell dies, the left celebrates with creepy glee

I checked the news during my lunch hour and discovered that Jerry Falwell had died. During my commute home later that afternoon, the first place I went on my radio dial was not one of my right-wing talk hosts to whom I mostly listen. No, I went to one of the "progressive" talk radio stations in Sacramento to hear the inevitable celebrations that were probably going on. I was not disappointed. I tuned in to local left-wing gasbag Christine Craft on KSAC, 1240 AM, who was giddy to the point of breathlessness. As she talked a mile a minute about the joys of a dead Falwell, I was struck by just how hypocritical this nasally witch was being. First of all, she kept reminding herself and the listening audience over and over that Falwell was indeed dead. She kept repeating it just because she liked the sound of it. She was recounting some of the more outrageous things Falwell said in his long career, and she kept yelling, "Wake up Mr. Falwell!... Oh that's right, you can't... YOU'RE DEAD!" It was simply goulish.

Now to the hypocritical part. Mizz Craft kept referring to Falwell as a "tub of goo" because he was overweight. Now wait a minute here; I thought that in the compassionate and tolerant world of leftism, it's not OK to make fun of fat people. Isn't some sort of -ism being committed here by making fun of fat people? But there was the so-called compassionate and tolerant leftist-in-good-standing Christine Craft making fun of a fat person for being fat, and dancing on his grave in the process. So I guess in the topsy-turvy world of the Left, it's OK to make fun of fat people as long as they are not leftists. Consistency has never been the Left's strong point.

I freely admit that Falwell uttered some tongue-cluck-inducing quotes in his time, such as blaming 9-11 on our deteriorating morality in this country - sorry, Muslims would have still attacked us even if we acted like a bunch of saints; the majority of us are still not Muslim - but as far as Falwell's general political philosophy went, I tended to agree with him far more than disagree.

Off the top of my head, I would be hard-pressed to think of a public figure who would have me worked up in a celebratory tizzy like I witnessed Christine Craft exhibiting today. The more I listened, the more uncomfortable I became. At the risk of repeating myself, it was positively goulish. Christine Craft should be ashamed of herself.

Good Day to You, Sir

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Blogging break

My wit and wisdom will be unavailable for the next few days. The time is currently 8:52pm as my fingertips strike the keyboard. At 3:30am, I have to get up in order to catch a 6am flight from Sacramento to San Antonio. Waiting for me in the Lone Star State are my wife and children, who departed for there on Tuesday morning. We are all converging on the home of the Alamo for my wife's family reunion on her father's side. We try to get together about every other year.

This couldn't have come at a better time; my school is knee-deep in state testing right now, so I will (sob, sob) have to miss two days of it. We are all going to a dude ranch about 30 minutes outside San Antonio. From what I hear, it is a great place. I will give my impressions upon my return. Until then,

Happy traaaaaails to yoooooou, untiiiil we meeeeet agaaaaain.

You've come a long way baby!

I know that this comparison is apples and oranges and a bit disingenuous... or is it? After it came in the mail yesterday, I quickly perused the latest issue of the union propaganda rag... er, magazine... that is mailed by the California Teachers Association (CTA).

While flipping through the pages, I came across an article on page 26 that talked about a teacher strike in the ritzy-ish California berg of Carlsbad, which is about 30 minutes north of the ritzy-ish city of San Diego. When I saw the photos that accompanied the article, I laughed so hard, my Hansen's kiwi strawberry soda shot out my nose. The photos must have struck a chord. After work today, my cell phone rang; it was my buddy George, he of the now-defunct Mimmenblog. George asked me if I had gotten the latest copy of California Educator. Instantly, I said, "Let me guess: they are all holding coffee!" Bing! There they were in the photos; a bunch of smiling striking female teachers marching in single-file line on their way to go stick it to the man. And the most hilarious part of the photos was the fact that almost every one of these strikers had a venti Starbucks in their hand. I took a chance and checked if I could find this article online. Bing! Look at those poor pitiful teachers as they risk life and limb to work toward a better tomorrow. How brave they are to face such pain and misery as they endeavor to ameliorate the multitudinous hardships of the proletariat.

Are these the modern-day versions of the strikers of old? Let us take a look at some strikers from 1894, standing near their spacious abodes along the Pullman yards in Chicago:
And how about these Pullman strikers, as they are shot at by soldiers on a passing train; do you see any cups of coffee in the strikers' hands as they face down the muzzles of the federal firearms?

Believe me, I enjoy getting paid just as much as the next teacher. But let's attempt to find some perspective here. If you are going to go out and strike, I think a good strategy would be to not look like you are enjoying it quite so much. I would think it would cause some citizens to pause and wonder if you really have all that much about which to complain.

Hat tip to George for convincing me to blog about this. Thanks George!

Good Day to You, Sir

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Taking the blame for what you cannot control

At the end of an IEP* today (a conference call meeting in which the mother ended up never calling), I overheard our principal mention something about our school being investigated - by whom I did not hear - because 75% of our special education students are black.

This is a common theme in the ongoing hand-wringing over the "achievement gap"; the fact that black students tend to be disproportionately represented in special education classrooms and in special education programs. Since this statistic is true just about anywhere, I can only assume that my school was singled out because we had an especially skewed number of black students in the program.

I am continually amazed by how obtuse some people can be - in this case, the district/county/state officials who are up in arms over our special education statistics. There are all kinds of disparities out there, but whose fault is it?

One of the best known disparities is women in college sports. All kinds of men's athletics programs have been discontinued in colleges all over the country in the name of equity. According to the fascistic bean counters out there, if the percentage of women in a college's sports programs does not match the percentage of women enrolled in the school, then it is automatically assumed that there is discrimination against women going on in the school's athletic department. The fact that women and men are different, and the natural aggression and competitiveness of the average male is going to cause more male students to gravitate towards sports than female students, is too much for the clipped-haired, mean-faced feminists to bear. I borrowed that term from Michael Savage by the way; I can't claim it as my own.

I always find it interesting when a dearth of a certain demographic in a certain pursuit causes wailing and crying, but an overabundance does not cause any concern. The NBA is overwhelmingly dominated by black players, way out of proportion to their numbers in the general population. Is this too a sign of discrimination? Why aren't activists out there demanding that black players only make up 12% of the League's roster? Shouldn't diversity go both ways? You could make the reverse argument about the National Hockey League as well. Where is the push for more black players in the NHL? To find your answer, simply poll my black students with the following question: Would you rather play in the NBA or the NHL? I'm sure you know what the poll results will be.

Instead of getting indignant about the numbers of black students qualifying for special education services, how about addressing the problems that cause them to qualify in such overwhelming numbers to begin with? This black student whose IEP we held today is a prime example. He is 14 years old and physically looks like he is in the sixth grade; we can only speculate as to why. There is no father in the home, and according to the paperwork, the student is one of "several" children, and mom is currently pregnant with baby-number-whatever. Earlier this year, this student was suspended for urinating on the outside of a classroom because he couldn't find one of the many bathrooms located on our campus, and he has received at least two five-day suspensions for fighting. Are you telling me that this student should be denied special education services because we have already exceeded our black student quota?

The same thing happens to me in my classroom. Today for instance, I walked around the classroom with a trash can, instructing all my gum chewers to spit it out. Every one of my gum chewers was black. Does that mean I only targeted black students? Hell no! Before I went on my gum crusade, I non-chalantly examined every student in the classroom, looking for the tell-tale chewing. What am I supposed to do if only the black students are chewing gum? Let it go for fear of offending them? What does that say about my expectations of behavior if I relax my classroom rules for one specific group of students? Could it be that a disproportionate number of black students try to get away with more misbehavior because they know they have the race card in their holster, and are counting on the teachers to back down? I honestly don't know.

What I do know is that expecting human beings to fit into a nice, neat statistical category is way too much to ask. While we are all individuals, we do tend to follow certain cultural norms. Those cultures can be constructive or destructive. The question of the moment that we as educators and as citizens face is a difficult one. Do we show courage in the face of threats and ridicule and tell the practitioners of a destructive culture that what they are doing is wrong, or do we take the easy, non-confrontational way out by validating their culture; branding it as not wrong, just different?

Some of my more myopic readers have called me a racist for making such remarks, and have expressed their sadness that my children will grow up being raised by a racist such as myself. I ask these knee-jerk reactionaries to please explain to me how they are not the racists for believing that the current social practices of many black Americans are the best that we can expect?

Good Day to You, Sir

*For those of you not versed in edulingo, an IEP is an "Individualized Education Plan" which is a requirement for students who are enrolled in special education. An initial IEP, like the meeting we had today, is the meeting where we go over the results of all the different tests the school psychologist previously gave to the student, and the determination is made as to whether or not the student qualifies for special education services. Personally, I think the whole setup is a big muddy crock of crap.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Big changes coming to the Sacramento skyline

If you aren't from Sacramento, I know that the contents of this post will be pretty pedestrian for you, but bear with me, because I love high rises and skyscrapers. I may be a rural, mountains kind of guy, but I have always been fascinated with the whole process of building and maintaining a high-rise building. I have always thought that being an architect of one of these behemoths has got to be one of the most complex jobs in the world. How can you possibly make sense of all the tiny little details that go into designing such a massive structure?

When I was going to college near Mount Shasta in northern California in the early 1990s, I always loved it when we would come down to Sacramento for a track or cross-country meet, because I would get to look at the high rises under construction or just recently constructed. Around this time, the Renaissance Tower, also known as the "Darth Vader" building...

... had recently been completed, and to me, it told me that Sacramento was finally coming into its own as a big city. When, by chance, I moved to Sacramento in 1998, I followed the progress of the Cal-EPA building, but I think the finished product (especially the top) was ho-hum and pretty ugly:

After that high rise was completed around 2000, construction downtown pretty much came to a halt. There was a Sheraton hotel built on J Street, but the height of it was rather uninspiring

Circumstances have now changed. If everything goes as planned, high rise junkies like me are going to be in hog heaven in the Sacramento area, as this fall, there could possibly be as many as five sky cranes hanging over the city skyline as they build several projects that are already underway, or are about to be. The building that is furthest along is the 25-story U.S. Bank Tower, which is currently under construction at 621 Capitol Mall. The skeleton is complete, and now it needs its exterior skin. Once completed, the building will look like this:

I like the spire; it gives a futuristic flair to this former Gold Rush city. Just down the street at 500 Capitol Mall, another 25-story office building is also underway. The foundation has been dug, and I think pile-driving is currently underway. On two occasions, I have taken my son on a Saturday morning outing to watch two excavator backhoes fill a never-ending line of dumper trucks with dirt as the foundation was excavated. Once this building is complete, this will be the result:
The original plan called for a replica of the Parthenon to adorne the top of the building. The Sac City Council nixed that plan, much to the chagrin of the Tsakapolous family - local developers who are financing the project. Personally, I prefer this compromise design that they then submitted. I think a Parthenon would have been a bit much.

Yet another project on Capitol Mall - this one at 301 - is currently stalled. A twin-tower hotel/condo complex called Sac Towers would easily be the tallest buildings in the city - by over 200 feet - if they are ever completed. The construction site is fenced off, and the ground has been cleared, but that is all I have seen. The last I checked, there have been some funding issues that have halted construction for the time being. Too bad, because here is what they would look like:
Tastes may differ, but I like 'em! They would give the skyline quite a double exclamation point. In case this project falls through, there are two condos almost underway that will pick up the slack. These are both rather bizarre creations from the mind of one of the hottest architects in the business right now, Daniel Liebeskind. I recently read an architectural critic who said that Liebeskind must get his design ideas by bashing a pane of glass with a hammer, then sketching the results. Let's see if you agree by viewing the towers, which are called the Aura and the Epic. I believe the Epic would be the taller of the two, and here is a rendition:

Talk about futuristic, it makes the U.S. Bank Tower look like a western saloon. Of course then, here is the Aura:
The Aura construction site has been fenced off, and it is also on Capitol Mall, literally next door to the U.S. Bank Tower. The Epic is a bit more uptown toward Cesar Chavez Park.

Another project that has reached sky crane status is a 19 story headquarters for Cal-STRS (state teacher retirement system) that is being built in West Sacramento. Not a lot of ooohs and ahhhs height-wise, but it will be a bump on the skyline nevertheless, and it has an intriguing design:

And finally, I only dare dream that this building will become a reality. It is merely in the traffic study phase, but it could definitely happen. Say hello to the Capitol Grand Tower:

Seventy stories, 775 feet from sidewalk to top of structure, 965 feet to the top of the spire - talk about giving Sacramento a phallus worth gasping at, eh?

For a final review, I found this rendering that shows what the Sacramento skyline would look like with most of these projects included (don't forget to click on the pic to enlarge it):

I make no bones about the fact that I would prefer to live with my family in a small town in the mountains rather than a big city in a flat valley. But I subscribe to that whole lemon/lemonade cliche. The least I can do is to root for as many urban mountains to be built as possible so that I may gaze upon their grandeur and feel a sense of awe for the men who build such seemingly impossible things.

Good Day to You, Sir

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The 117th Carnival of Education... open for business. Some good articles this week; check out what is happening in the edublogosphere.

Good Day to You, Sir

The ugly face of Hip-Hop

Hide your daughters everyone; Akon is on the prowl.

View this episode of Michelle Malkin's Vent to see what kind of criminal trash our youth culture is idolizing these days. It's stuff like this that reveals to me why we get old and die; we can't stand to continue watching what is becoming of the future.

Good Day to You, Sir