That’s Nice, But I am Here to Talk About My Kid.


PT Conference.Parent-Teacher Conference night is a strange and mysterious event for teachers, parents, administrators, and students.

It is a tremendous amount of work for teachers. They prepare weeks and days in advance, only to have meeting after meeting with moms and dads (best case scenario- everyone shows up at the proper time….. better case scenario- the mom voted most likely to scream at you in front of other parents doesn’t show up at all).

Parents hope that they hear good things about their child (nothing ruins an evening like finding out the 3rd grade teacher is convinced that your kid is headed for prison… likely after a lengthy crime spree).

Administrators hope that everything goes smoothly and they don’t have to mediate a dispute between a parent and teacher (nothing like being in the middle of an argument that 9 times out of 10 ends up with both sides questioning your manhood/womanhood/sanity).

Students with good grades and behavior love conferences (1%), other students consider it much like a trip to the dentist (other 99%). As a kid, you hope that you can keep your worlds separated… nothing worse than seeing your teacher and dad sharing information about you (nothing good can come out of this awkward and uncomfortable situation).

As a parent I don’t mind going to my child’s conference, but I do have a question. I go to talk about my kid, so why did the teacher babble on and on about this other student that I have never met?

Is the teacher making stuff up about this mysterious kid? Does she think I won’t notice the difference between my kid and this superhuman, overly polite, academic machine that she is telling stories about?

I say this not to question the teacher’s honesty or integrity. I say this because the child the teacher describes during our conference doesn’t bear any resemblance to my evil spawn who sleeps/eats/watches TV/and mooches off me in my house.

After sitting through 10 minutes of stories about this wonderful child I don’t know, I begin to wonder if the teacher has forgotten to take her medication.

Then it hits me like a ton of bricks. There can only be one answer. It is so obvious. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it 9 minutes ago. Aliens.

Evidently, somewhere between the junkyard she calls her room and the door of school; some sort of creature invades my daughter’s body and then spends the day making her do strange things in a sad attempt to impress people she hardly knows.

Examples of these strange things she is doing include: listening, being polite, getting her work done in a timely manner, sharing, playing with others, and raising her hand to gain permission before she speaks.

I found all of these things both strange and disturbing (I can assure you this is not how she was raised). I could go into more detail about her odd behavior, but it makes my head hurt and brings shame to the entire family.

The only consolation is that the aliens leave everyday about 3:10; they return her back to our family, unharmed and back to “normal”.

Maybe one day, these aliens will miss their bus and the teacher will actually get to meet my child and not this strange creature that sits in the back row of the classroom and quietly does her assignments.

Then we can actually have a Parent-Teacher Conference where we talk about my kid (and then if things go well, we could go out for ice cream).

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Does Anyone Even Know Who Bert Parks Is?


This is Bert Parks... Former Host of the Ms. America Pageant.I have long had a theory about how each day of the week has a very specific feel. The theory is that if you didn’t know what day of the week it was, you would still know because of the day’s feel (I will be testing my theory during my retirement in 2030).

This all began with my distaste of Sunday nights. In a very weak attempt to explain this concept, I will describe each day of the week and also correlate it to what type of human being it would be (stay with me, it gets weirder).

Monday always feels like Monday. There is nothing like it. Things are hectic, nothing goes smoothly, bad things happen, and people don’t feel their best (probably why bad things happen). There is definitely a feeling that everyone gets about Mondays. When people have a bad day later in the week, they always refer to it is as “it feels like a Monday.”

If you have to choose a day to skip work or school, Mondays are in the top two. My advice is to never wear a new tie or shirt on a Monday because you have a 99.97845 percent chance of spilling something on it. Monday is an early leader for the worst day of the week (if it was human it would be a divorced alcoholic who can’t keep a job).

Tuesday is better than Monday, but it has two big things going against it. First, it follows a bad, bad day in Monday (especially if you ended up wearing your coffee). Secondly, Tuesday is a long way from Friday (it is like getting tickets to the Super Bowl and then finding out you’re sitting in the top row and can’t see squat- it is okay, but ripe for disappointment).

Tuesday has a definite feel. That feeling is there is nothing special about the day. Not a great day, not a terrible day (if it was human it would be nice, but unmarried and living in an apartment at the age of 47).

Wednesdays; now we are getting somewhere. These come along in the middle of the work week, just when you have given up hope of ever seeing another weekend.

Whoever decided our workweek would be five days long was a genius (5 days allow for the middle hump day- GO Wednesdays!!!).

It is a very good day; far enough away from hung-over Monday so we don’t dread it, but close enough to the weekend to be considered fun (human= not the coolest guy in the room, but most likely the coolest guy’s really good friend that everybody likes).

Thursdays, have us heading straight for the weekend. Thursdays are nice. At this point in the week we are all tired, but when you get to Thursday at least you can see the light at the end of the tunnel (Thursdays are like the drive to get to your vacation- not the most fun part, but at least you aren’t at work).

Thursday is historically, a very good TV night, so it has that going for it. While it will never be considered the best day of the week, it is certainly well thought of and appreciated (human = good solid neighbor who is fun at the block party, but relatively quiet after 10:00 pm and will loan you their mower, no questions asked).

Fridays are really good and you might consider them the best day of the week. Sorry, because if you do, you are dead wrong. This is because while you are ready for the weekend, you are more likely to be too tired to stay up late and you probably need to sleep in on Saturday morning.

This means the benefits of Friday should really be transferred to Saturday. All in all an excellent day, with a feel all its own. Everyone at work knows what a Friday feels like. It has the same feeling that the day before vacation has, but it comes once a week (human = your best uncle, but he has a tendency to peter out early at the party- kids remember—-you always have to pace yourself).

If you are still with me (and at this point I have my doubts), Saturdays can easily be considered the best day of the week. You don’t have to work (hopefully) and it is the farthest weekend day away from dreaded Monday. A good, solid Saturday makes all other days look pathetic.

Generally, excellent TV during the day (on the downside- the worst TV of the week at night) and lots of time to do things outside. Saturdays are great in the mornings (sleep in), great in the afternoons (free time), and you still get to look forward to Saturday night!

Saturdays are the best, hands down (Saturdays are the Miss America of days (back when people actually watched Miss America- Bert Parks we hardly knew you). No one ever has a bad Saturday, even if it rains (i.e.- refer back to good TV during the day and Mondays are so far, far away).

You will never, ever hear the phrase, “I had the worst Saturday ever, and I can’t wait until Monday.” If you do, run, because you are in the presence of a stupid person.

That brings us (those of you who are left- both of you) to Sundays. Not a bad day, but a Sunday always leads to a Monday (not good- see rambling incoherent paragraphs towards the beginning of this train wreck of a blog).

If you have a great Sunday, about 5:00 in the afternoon you will begin to dread Monday morning. Don’t get me wrong, Sundays have their moments, but too often they become bogged down in the mundane (i.e. – mowing, laundry, or grocery shopping) or you end up with obligations (i.e. – family gatherings, or catching up on work that you need to finish by Monday).

Sunday evenings go twice as fast as any other evening during the week. It is true. I have scientific proof. One moment it is 5:00 pm in the afternoon, the next thing you know it is 5:00 am Monday morning.

In reality, Sunday is only a half-day because when you pass the point of no return (mid-afternoon), you are on the fast track to Monday and the more you dread it, the faster time goes.

That makes Sunday, the Miss Congeniality of the week. They are okay (not loved, not hated- but very good in the talent competition). There is no way they will ever, ever be considered among the top five in the competition for best day of the week.

In summary, this should now all makes sense, unless there is a three day weekend which means Saturday becomes Friday, Sunday becomes a Saturday, and Monday evening becomes Sunday evening….. never mind because tomorrow is Monday and I have 4,070 school days until retirement, so I have plenty of time to perfect my theory and also shorten this blog.

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Grissom, I Could Really Use Your Help.


Gil Grissom from CSI.As I get older several things in the world of education are becoming crystal clear to me.

One, students look forward to summer break more than any other group, except for teachers. When I was a kid, I had no idea how much teachers looked forward to getting out of school in May. Now I know.

I often times think people who work 50 weeks a year appreciate three day weekends more than people in education appreciate 3 months off. Too often we all forget how lucky we are to have the time off not only during the summer, but during the school year.

Two, if a student is sent to the office and the first thing they say is, “I swear I am not lying”, I can officially call Las Vegas and bet my life on the fact that they are about to tell a lie.

What honest person even assumes that someone thinks they are lying? Honest people don’t have to announce they aren’t lying, because it doesn’t ever cross their minds that others think they might be. I should have been a detective (but they don’t get summer breaks, so I will leave that job to Gil Grissom).

Third, the older I get the more and more I think someone is turning the clock forward when I am asleep (maybe Mr. Grissom could solve this riddle for me). I can remember when old people would say time goes faster as you age and I thought they had Alzheimer’s (or as we called it when I was a kid- “crazy nutbags”).

Now I can’t believe how quickly the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years fly by. It is amazing to me that it is almost Halloween. I glanced at the front of PrincipalsPage.com and noticed that there are now less than 70 days until Christmas. Where does the time go (and why do I blog about the loss of time, yet I have a countdown on the front of the website…..it’s a riddle even to me)?

I often wonder why people who are getting close to retirement take such joy in counting down their time left on the job. I understand that they are looking forward to a more relaxed, less structured life, but who in their right mind wants time to go faster (is everyone’s secret desire to age?)?

I would love it to be like when I was 7 years old. It would be Tuesday and my next baseball game would be that Saturday, so I would do the obvious thing. Get my uniform on, 5 days in advance. I looked good (not really, but it’s my blog- if you want to stay young in your own mind, get your own blog).

Back then it seemed when you were looking forward to something, it took forever for that event to arrive (dinner, a game, the holidays, puberty, getting a girlfriend, going to prison for the first time, etc.). Time went so slow back them.

Not now though, as I barrel towards a near certain date with death. I can’t keep up. The days and weeks are just rolling by. Each school year seems to go faster and faster.

One day in the near future, I am going to get school started on the first day, swing by my office, and when I come out ten minutes later it will be Thanksgiving.

How can time go so fast, yet it my own mind I don’t seem to age (it is my blog)?

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If This Offends Frank Constanza, I Apoligize.


Frank Costanza From Seinfeld.Is it politically incorrect to be against widespread political correctness? I feel like as a society, we have to apologize to everyone for every thought or comment we might have as individuals (before I go any farther, my apologies to people who strongly believe in political correctness).

What has happened to our country? We used to be all for one and one for all. We were stronger as a group when we pulled in one direction and didn’t stop every two minutes to see who might be offended (my apologies to those of you who don’t like groups and prefer individuality).

Now it seems that if 1% of a group is offended by something, they expect the other 99% to also by offended (sorry 1 per centers as I don’t want to make you mad).

While I agree that everyone has rights, I believe that people abuse their right to be offended. Some things are truly offensive, but others are just small annoyances that we have to learn to deal with as we go through life. The trick is knowing what is truly offensive (I hope I didn’t just offend magicians).

When a small group tells the other 99% of us that we can’t do this, or say that, or act a certain way- aren’t they infringing on our rights?

You may be wondering why I chose this topic on which to write a blog…well…another Halloween season is just about here and a principal was telling me that she is catching heat because her school still allows their students to dress up. A group from the community is pushing her to celebrate a Halloween alternative called Fall Day (apologies to supporters of Winter Day, Spring Day, and Summer Day for not mentioning you in the previous sentence).

In schools, it has become politically correct to not allow students to celebrate Halloween.

Because as we all know, every child who was allowed to dress up at school in the last 50 years has turned out to be a devil worshiper (if I offended Devil Worshipers, please accept my apology because that certainly wasn’t my intention).

The small percentage that is offended by what Halloween used to be hundred of years ago, now wants to dictate how kids interpret the holiday and how it should be celebrated in 2007.

I may be going out on a limb here, but I don’t think a 3rd grader dressing up like Batman will affect the way he looks at organized religion for the rest of his life (please accept my apology Superman, Spiderman, Green Lantern, and the Incredible Hulk- I just thought Batman was funnier).

In 2007, Halloween is now about costumes and candy. That’s it. Things change with time and Halloween has evolved over the years. As adults we shouldn’t put thoughts in our children’s heads other than the basic truth. Halloween = Candy + Costumes (and a couple of junior high boys who keep teepeeing my yard- I know who you are and where you live-my advice is be afraid, very afraid).

As adults, we should be able to recognize what Halloween has become, and I think 99% of us do. Unfortunately, 1% doesn’t. They seem to yell the loudest and want to tell the rest of us that our kids shouldn’t observe Halloween (if I just offended loud people, I didn’t mean too).

Individuals who don’t like Halloween seem to be okay with Easter. People who don’t like Christmas enjoy Hanukah. I have noticed people in England don’t seem to care for July 4th. War objectors probably don’t celebrate Veteran’s Day. And all of this is fine (I truly hope this paragraph wasn’t offensive to Christians, Jews, people from England, George W. Bush, or Veterans).

Wouldn’t it be okay if we just acknowledged what others think is important? We don’t have to agree or celebrate their holidays, but we also don’t have to ask them not to celebrate.

Maybe we should drop all of the holidays and force children to only celebrate Festivus Day, a holiday for the rest of us (if you have to Google this, I am terribly sorry about your entertainment choices- by the way..sorry Yahoo, Ask.com, MSN, AOL and Dogpile).

Now that I have aired my grievances, let the feats of strength begin.

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Rule #1: Don’t Bleed in the House.


Band-aids Were Cheaper Than a Doctor at My House.It may just be my imagination (or possibly the voices in my head), but are parents getting soft with their kids?

Maybe I am old (that’s a yes if you are keeping score at home) and I am only able to remember how tough parents where when I was a kid.

If memory serves me correct, we had it rough in regards to how our parents treated us.

I distinctly remember living in a cave. We had no money. No cars (unless you count the 85 foot station wagon with fake wood paneling on the side). Four television stations, if you count PBS. No electricity or food and we certainly didn’t eat out, go on vacation, or visit a doctor.

My parents had a theory on doctors. They felt they were expensive. You have to admit, while their theory is very basic, there is some genius hidden in its simplicity.

As parents, they made the difficult decision that it was cheaper for their children to die, than it was to take them to the doctor. Actually, as I recall, they really didn’t struggle with this decision that long.

A shallow grave near the family pets’ graveyard can make a lovely resting place for a teenage boy.

You may be thinking, what about the funeral? You can’t be serious. Do the math. Too expensive, plus they had three kids just in case one was damaged beyond repair.

One kid goes down and they would still have two more than when they started. Again, simple- but genius.

Since we were not allowed to go to the doctor, we were encouraged not to get hurt.

If we were hurt, there was one basic rule that had to be followed. No exceptions and no excuses. The rule was “Don’t bleed in the house.”

If you were bleeding, you were quickly ushered (pushed) outside in the yard.

How my parents were not elected King and Queen of the United States Association of Parents, I will never understand.

These days it seems like kids go to the nurse’s office and the emergency room for any reason. A good school nurse does more business on a Monday morning than four overpriced Starbucks.

Students are just looking for a reason to go see her. Cough, running nose, head hurts, broken bones, loss of an eye in PE, etc. are all reasons to run to a paid, very expensive medical professional. Not in my day.

When I was a kid, I could have come home with a shiv stuck directly in my heart and I would have gotten yelled at for bleeding out in the living room.

After the screaming died down, my parents would have pointed out (if I could still hear them before I crossed over to the other side) how I just ruined my family’s evening.

I can hear my dad now, “Quit crying, it is a long way from your heart.” Which I would have replied, “Actually the shiv is in my heart.”

“Don’t be a baby and don’t bleed in the house.”

It takes longer than you think to dig a shallow grave.

My wife found this entry disturbing. She wants everyone to know that parts of this blog were embellished. I must admit that she is correct. The station wagon wasn’t really that long and I wouldn’t have been allowed to pass on until I dug my own grave.

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My Dad is Still Goofy.


Math is Hard.My Dad is typing this because he says having me type is like watching paint dry.

I wanted to answer your questions.

How much are you charging for Dad- $100 ($50 for me and $50 for Dad)- that is a good girl who will sell her father and then split the money

Do we get ice cream for helping- No, you’re on your own.

Can he cook or clean- No and Yes.

Have you gone for ice cream yet- No, I needed 10 comments and I only got 8.

What flavor of ice cream- Chocolate.

Now the joke.

What did one math book say to the other math book………………………………………

I have a lot of problems!

Please leave a comment. Help a girl out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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What ACT Score Do You Need to Get Into OCU?


Are ACT Scores Overrated?Why is change so difficult? It can come so slowly and can be so painful for some people. Unfortunately, I think this is magnified times 10 in an educational setting.

Are people afraid of the process of change or the result? Why do they always assume change will be for the worse and not for the better?

I am assuming most schools don’t have a mission statement that reads “This too shall pass”.

Schools are supposedly made up of forward looking people whose main goal (in theory) is to help prepare students for the future. Shouldn’t we be just the type of people who want to embrace change and be willing to accept whatever comes our way?

It seems to me that higher education (junior colleges and colleges) produces educators who are more liberal in regards to change and those of us in K-12 education are much more conservative (ie: scared).

Public education should value people who aren’t afraid to look for better ways to teach and educate children. School Boards should put a premium on administrators and teachers who can think of ways and can see better opportunities to run schools and get students the education that they need (ie: think outside the box- ie: I hate that phrase).

I won’t argue that there are not instances when teachers and administrators are open to change. It happens, but I think that it is the exception more than the rule (people win the lottery and buy Bob Dylan CD’s, but I have never met one).

More often, people treat change like a tax audit, a full-body exam (I will just leave it at that), or a trip to have their driver’s license renewed.

People fear change like they fear; public speaking, death, a New Kids on the Block reunion, dark places, heights, two-headed cats, clowns, or being buried alive with Michael Jackson.

When presented with change we are too quick to say; what’s in it for me, or it won’t work, or why even try because the change will never last.

I think the business world is far more open to changes. Their world rewards changes and addresses stationary attitudes far more quickly than the educational world.

They have a system that judges them quickly. It is fairly simple and easy to understand. It is called, have you made money lately?

Educational people don’t like to be judged. We don’t like test scores, evaluations, or NCLB (all work of the Devil). We want to believe that there is no way to evaluate us fairly because administrators or school boards could be out to get us (work of the Devils).

But if we are not getting better, aren’t we getting worse? Shouldn’t we welcome suggestions on how we can improve? Shouldn’t we want the newest and latest technology?

I think everyone should work on day to day contract. Human nature tells me that we would all work harder, look at changes with an open mind, and tackle new challenges.

I don’t want my doctor, or plumber, or members of the military, or even the guy who changes the oil in my truck to be on a five-year or lifetime contract. I want to judge them on what they have done lately. Especially the oil change guy (don’t tell me how you changed oil when you first graduated from Oil Change University or you are too close to retirement to learn and use the new oil change equipment).

Plus, if you work hard and your present employer decides they don’t want you- I bet there is a school system or business out there somewhere that could use a person willing to accept constructive criticism and maybe even change.

Students change. Society changes. Technology changes. Shouldn’t we.

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Cross the Baggage Handler and You’re Going to be Sorry.


I Wish My Luggage Was This Nice.I spent a day and a half in Chicago this past week. You would think I was doing some high level business thing, or having meetings, or even attending a convention of some sort.

Nope. Driving my wife back and forth as she does important stuff. At school, I am in charge of several things, but at home I am in charge of nothing.

While in the big city, I noticed several things. Here is what I learned.

1. If you stand in the middle of the sidewalk and stare up at the tall building, you might as well put a sign around your neck that says “I am a redneck from the small town of Hickory, USA, please take my money”.

2. The more people in a city, the less they want to interact with each other. Never make eye contact, never speak, because if you do it is assumed that you are a murderer.

3. Everyone in Chicago has a cell phone. If you want to speak to them, give them a call- but remember- never face to face.

4. Always look left before you cross the street. Failure to do so will result in a cab driver cursing you in some sort of loud Middle Eastern language that you have never heard before (but you will understand the meaning).

5. If you are difficult with the suitcase guy in the hotel, your bag will return to you in 48 hours smelling like urine.

6. Free Internet Access at a Marriot only costs $14.95 per day or 50 cents per minute (you do the math).

7. Drinks that cost $9.00 each don’t taste any better than a $2.50 drink in Hickory, USA.

8. If you fall asleep in a Chicago hotel, the city automatically sends out 14 ambulances and fire trucks with sirens blaring to wake you up.

9. It is sad to see a homeless person on the street. It is even sadder when the homeless person has a watch, a cell phone, and a $57 coffee from Starbucks.

10. One way streets are always going the wrong way when you are lost.

11. I don’t care who you are, kids that can text-message with both hands on two phones are very impressive.

12. People in the city must get sick a lot, because there is a Wal-Greens every 27 feet. Seriously, you can’t find a cop; but cough medicine, magazines, gum, and foot powder are everywhere.

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Disclaimer

While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.