Saturday, March 19, 2011

Friday Five - Chores for Saturday

So I woke up this morning and I quickly realized that I had not posted a Friday Five yesterday. So I thought about it and seeing as my mind is quite tired from a week of lack of sleep, and agonizing about what is going to happen with my school and me, and of course spending time figuring out if I wanted to apply for summer school ( I decided yes and have started the process). I know that summer is to get away from the kids, but I thought money vs sitting by the pool/in my hot apartment. I decided that Money was better, plus we will be saving A/C money while I am not there!

Back to what this post is really all about - My Saturday Chores! Yeah!
I am going to see the Las Vegas Wranglers Hockey game tonight at the Orleans Arena with friends so I think I need to set some goals of what is going to get done today so that I don't waste the whole day on what I would really love to be doing, which is being crafty.
I know that I could make it look like I posted this thing yesterday, but if you are an early morning blogger like me (or at least I read them early in the morning) you would know better, so instead of insulting your intelligence I am going to let the computer post it when it was actually posted.

1. Laundry - I mean all of it! bedding, towels, hamper, and then putting it all away. I hope no one else in my house wants to do laundry today! 1pm - halfway done! Geeze I have so much to wash.
2. Go to Walmart and pick up 2 shelves, and an under the bed storage container, so that I may contain all of my nice (freshly washed) bedding that I don't use in the blistering summer heat of Las Vegas. Last year I just tucked it under the bed, but when I pulled it out last fall so that I could use it, there were dust bunnies all over it. Then I had to wash it all over again. Waste of my time! Gross! So this time I am not making that same mistake! 1pm,- have made some progress on this as I have spent some time online shopping for the exact thing, and it turns out I have a coupon and gift card for that store. I am going to get ready for the day and go pic these storage pieces up.
3. Vacuum my bedroom. 1pm - Had to fix the vac, but this is done now.
4. Organize my craft area better. I will even show you what it looks like right now and then later when its all organized.


5. Lastly, I need to spend some time in my closet organizing my clothes so that my winter stuff is at the back and all my summer tees and crops are at the front. This step will also include trying on most of it to see how it looks, because if I don't like it; then its going in the DI box for the Thrift shop.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Letter to the Editor of the Review Journal- Las Vegas

As all of the turmoil has been occuring at my school this past week and a half I have tried to keep my parents informed on what the current situation at Chaparral is. After reading my blog the other night, my father wrote me the following few paragraphs. I wanted to share them with all of you because it also reflects how I feel about the situation. At the end of the letter he also allowed me to send it in to the RJ as a letter to the editor. I did, now lets see if it gets printed. :)

Letter from Dad to Merika
"I've been around a long time, and have kind of figured out how the federal government functions. Unfortunately the state governments too often do the same things, all of which reflect their shallow thinking.
- Introducing turmoil does only harm to the students, especially the fragile students from broken families that are predominate at Chaparral. Too many students now days don't feel a relationship or sense of belonging to their school, as evidenced by the high dropout rate. What little relationship they feel is because of the teachers, athletic teams, clubs and music programs. Changing out half of the teachers will only discourage another 10 percent of the students - those who were hanging on by the skin of their teeth as it was.
- The federal and state governments are willing to bring turmoil to the school because they are not personally invested. To bureaucrats it's just a "program," but to the teachers the students are real people.
- Too many of the federal and state bureaucrats have become Leftists, believing that socialism and the welfare state are the solution to all of our problems. And to socialists/welfare statists, turmoil is always good, because in turmoil, other changes can be made, all of which further the erosion of American values and the integration of socialist values.
- Schools succeed or fail to the exact extent that our homes succeed or fail. Students come from homes, not from the school. Successful homes produce successful students (for the most part) and broken homes (homes in turmoil) produce broken students (for the most part). Introducing yet more turmoil into the schools will yield ONLY negative results. If the state and district had any sense they would come up with programs to help students at home in their families.
-Instead of being upset by the rallys, marches and demonstrations by the students in support of their school, teachers and Principal; we should be proud that they are exercising their First Amendment Right. All of their demonstrations were done in a respectful manner and all were planned and carried out during after school hours.
- Someone there needs to re-watch the movie "Mr. Holland's Opus," which drives home the point that students need and want the personal and emotional tie to the school, and that emotional link is found not in the core subjects such as Math, English, and History, but in the subjects and activities on the periphery such as band, orchestra, chorus, athletics, and clubs."

Friday, March 11, 2011

More Explanation of Turnaround

I cannot take credit for writing a portion of this blog, a friend at my school wrote it and I felt that I would be unable to write it anybetter than she did, so I am as the education community calls it; "borrowing" her words for my blog.
Many of you know that we have some major problems with the education system in this nation. We could all agree that the economy really stinks too. I have watched the news many times and see how changes are being made in other states seemingly far from Nevada that seem "crazy" to me. We have watched chaos unfold in some situations where people respond to these changes in so many different ways. It's always seemed so far away.

That changed this week. On Tuesday, we were summoned to a mandatory staff meeting after a full day of proficiency testing. We (Chaparral staff) filtered into our meeting room and were told that Chap is becoming a "Turnaround School." You can search the web and find many descriptions of it and its reasons, but to summarize, Chaparral can apply for $800,000 for our school if we do the following:

1) remove and replace our principal
2) remove the entire staff (teachers, administrators, support staff etc) and require that we reapply for our positions at Chap or transfer to another school.
(The new principal chooses those of us he wants to remain at Chap - up to 50%.)
3) turn in the application for the federally supplied funds and HOPE we get them.

That's right, this amazing upheaval may be for nothing. We can't be sure until after we comply with the requirements and go through the process.

Some of my coworkers are taking this much better than others. Everyone had a dozen or more questions and feared for our jobs in this trying economy. According to our union, we all should be able to get a position somewhere in the district. While in our logic, it appears that we will just swap places with another school who takes this process, the District sees it as the way to possibly secure the money needed to function. Our students have not taken to it very well either. They marched yesterday to the District building to meet with the School Board.

I love that our students love and appreciate what we the teachers have done. In the three years that I've been a teacher at Chap, I have seen milestones of growth. However, our scores are still low, higher in many ways, but still low. There are speculations and rumors about why our school was chosen. But the bottom line is that even in this frustrating time, our principal still reminds the staff to follow the contract agreements and for the students to choose proper outlets for expressing themselves as well.

I just want to say that even though this particular situation is not ideal, I do feel that it gave several of my students an oportunity to experience their 1st amendment in action and to see that the community is behind them in many ways. I also believe that stanting up for a worthy cause and having their voices heard, by not only eachother, their teachers or the people at the school, but also by the community, the news stations, and their school board.

Even though the school board was unwilling or unable to reverse their decision to make Chaparral a "Turnaround school" we the people of Chaparral Empowerment High School hope that we have affected change in the hearts of our students, the way the community views us, and maybe have affected the hearts of the Clark County School Board Trustee's and hopefully they will see that there are schools out in their communities that are more than just numbers and stats on a peice of paper; but that they have heart, ties, and loyalities to their school.

I saw a sign that I think tells it best but I didnt get a picture, but heres what it said:

Chap = Family
Turnaround = Divorce
Divorce = Discord

Turnaround Model - Chaparral kids made me so proud

Heres what has been happening in my life right now.

These are a few of my facebook status updates and comments for the past few days.

"Sorry I would have answered earlier, but I was comiserating at the bar with my co-workers; no worries though I was just imbibing in diet coke. They are cleaning house at my school, everyone has to re-apply, but the new principal can only hire back up to only 50%, so the rest of us are being distributed throughout the district, but we have to apply for those as well. My seniority number is so high that I may not be able to find a job."

"I dont think the school board expected this kind of response from chaparral."

"I think the kids showed that they do care and that this deicision has some very negative consequences. We didnt get the decision reversed, but that would have been more then we expected. We just hope that the board will think twice before doing this to another school like Chap. Esp when I have recieved txt and email from people at other schools who wish this was happening to their hostile school."

"I am so proud to be a Chaparral teacher this week. I have never seen such a massive amount of love and support from a student population directed to their principal and teachers. We have had signs, letters, notes of thanks to the teachers, rallys after school, student organized marches to the school district office to show how much they support their staff.
I have had countless students stop me in the hall way to just give me a hug and tell me that they hope I am still at Chap next year. I really hope that the students are able to keep at least a few key teachers who have made a personal connection with the student body so that they can have a little stabilitiy next year.
This exact thing is happening at other schools in the valley and their kids are NOT reacting the same way, Chap=Family. Its not just another school. We have been one of the main stories in the new(print and TV) for 3 days now. I call that awesome!"

Article online, found at one of the news websites.
Several local schools are bracing for major changes involving teachers and staff. Five Clark County schools will soon go through restructuring which could require teachers to reapply for their jobs.
So far, News 3 has identified Chaparral High, Mojave High, Hancock Elementary and Western High as schools being affected. The identity of the fifth school remains unknown.
At Chaparral Wednesday afternoon, more than 100 students rallied in protest when school let out.
Only about half the teachers and administrators who reapply for their jobs will be allowed to return.
“I work at a school that I’m very proud of,” said Chaparral teacher David Winkler. “Love Chaparral, love my colleagues; they’re hardworking people and that’s why I’m here.”
Chaparral, however, is among five low-achieving schools in the district which require serious change. At stake is the district’s share of $9 million in federal funds.
“We don’t want the teachers to get punished for the students’ actions, so we want to prove to Las Vegas that the students can bring our grades up and try harder,” one Chaparral student told News 3.
The restructuring is something the state is calling a turnaround model. It will also involve training and changes in how teachers teach.
The State Department of Education identified the underperforming schools by way of test scores and graduation rates. The district is trying to put a positive spin on the situation, saying it is aware improvements need to be made and that those federal funds are badly needed.
“We want to make sure that our children have the best opportunity to learn and to achieve. If we’ve been doing something for five years and we still have low scores at that school, we should be doing something different,” said Carolyn Edwards, CCSD board president.
Still, it’s a tough sell for those students who are doing well and may be losing a favorite teacher.
The district says no one will be fired in the process, but by next year many will end up at a different school.
The changes are expected to go into effect next school year. This has nothing to do with the impending budget cuts. If the governor’s budget is approved, the budget will have to cut about $400 million, which would result in layoffs.

“It took years to turn this school into a community and will only take a few weeks to destroy their spirit. Many of these children lead fragile lives and the district is about to take away the only positive adult influences some of these kids have. All this to receive additional grant money that will probably never be spent on the students that are paying for it.” ..laura cress (parent of a chaparral student).

Students Take 'Turnaround' Protest To School Board - Las Vegas News Story - KVVU Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS -- Students from Chaparral High School planned a second day of protests Thursday over the Clark County School Districts plan to put five under-performing schools in turnaround. Thursday, March 10, 2011.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Friday Five - Places I want to see and why

My Friday five this week is all about where and what I want to see in my lifetime.
1. I want to see the hills, lochs, and castles of Ireland and Scotland.

2.I want to see the pyramids and the Sahara desert. While I am there I want to ride on the back of a camel through the sand. I also want to shop at one of the famous bazaars of the middle east and sail on the Nile.

3. I want to see the spires of the great cathedrals from the middle ages of France and of course the catacombs under the streets of Paris.
Catacombs under the streets of Paris France.

K├Âlner Dom (Cologne, Germany)

Notre Dame, France

4. I want to sunbathe on the coasts of the Mediterranean sea. I want to walk where Jesus walked and see what Jesus saw.

5. I want to swim at the barrier reef and see Ayers rock and I want to spend time in the outback with some aboriginals and have a close call with an alligator or maybe a Tasmanian devil! I want to see some if the interesting animals that Australia has to offer.