Waiting for Superman. Still Waiting.


The Evil Spawn was gone last night.  I’m not sure I understand why sleeping at a friend’s house is exciting to a 9 year old girl, but I know why it’s exciting to me. 

Free time!!!

The Tech Queen took me out for dinner and a movie last night (it’s a glimpse of our future… a future of sweet, sweet freedom).Good, But Not Great.

And minus the oh so evil one, I didn’t have to sit through a Pixar/Disney/cartoon/talking animal/princess movie.

For at least one night, it was good to be me.

On a side note, if you are newly married, or considering marriage, please understand the following.  At some point in the future you will be giving birth (or watching… which I might add is no treat), so it’s important to go to the movies as much as possible before the baby arrives.

Sure, you will still go after you have children, but it’s not the same.

An entire decade (or more) of your movie life will vanish.  Plus, it takes at least $400 dollars to go with children (taffy alone is $150).

As you might guess, I like my movies heavy on car chases, fake violence, and really bad language.

But sadly, last night’s movie had none of these.

We went to see a documentary.

I’m not going to lie to you, if I could find my man card I would turn it in.

A documentary?  Yes, a documentary.

As educators we had no choice but to see Waiting for Superman.

It’s the movie that’s going to change education.


The movie is good, but it’s a documentary.

Which means no one is going to see it.

And that’s a shame.

The movie does a very good job at telling the story of how public education is in trouble.  The lowlights are:

• Crappy grade schools make crappier middle schools which then feed into the crappiest high schools, which become drop-out factories.

• The United States has 14,000 local school boards which makes universal standards impossible.

• Bad schools lead to bad neighborhoods, as opposed to bad neighborhoods leading to bad schools.

• It’s more expensive to house a prisoner than it would be to send them to a private school.

• Teachers Unions feed the political campaign machine.  They outspend the Teamsters and NRA (Democrats get 90% of their money).

• Every President for the last 40 years pledges to be the “Education President” and none of them are.

In summary, this means far too many kids have a less than zero chance of getting a good education from the day they walk into kindergarten.

But I think most people already know this.

At least the people who would go to a documentary on public education know this.

Throwing more money at education isn’t working.  More testing isn’t working.  Empty campaign promises aren’t working.

And unfortunately, I don’t think a movie about what most of us already suspect will change any of this.

But what do I know.

I remember thinking how cool it was when I took a 2 year old to her first movie (Shrek).  And it was.


Now I ready to see 97 different explosion sequences.

Which as this movie explains is what probably needs to happen to public education.

From now on, I’m only watching Bruce Willis movies… strangely, I have a soft spot for bald guys.

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A Good School Administrator Can Smell Trouble.

One of the worst things about being a school administrator is you become jaded.

After a few years (or hours) on the job you begin to get a sense of the people you are dealing with.

Your senses are heighted to the point you can easily recognize an upset person/fan/parent/employee/total stranger from at least 457 yards away.

My 457 yard figure isn’t a guesstimate.  It’s from a scientific study (Google it… actually, don’t).

It’s like playing Where’s Waldo.  Give a seasoned administrator a gym full of people and they can instantly spot the one person who is about to walk up and say…

“I don’t mean to complain, BUT…”

Just once, I want someone to walk up and say “I always complain and I always will.  So sit back and enjoy the colossal reaming you are about to receive!”

What a breath of fresh air that would be (call me a dreamer).

Since this is never going to happen, I want to focus on the downside of having the ability to recognize a complicated situation before it happens.

You (and by you, I mean me) get so used to having your guard up, you sometimes assume there’s trouble where there isn’t.Moist is Not Good.

And we all know what happens when you assume (if you don’t… Google it… really).

Not being able to properly diagnose a situation can make your life even more sad and tragic than it already is.

As I was researching this blog (not)  it made me think of the most horrific moment of my life.

No, not the day the Evil Spawn assumed control of the TV remote (although that’s definitely top 3).

The day in question was so terrible I encourage all of you to stop reading this blog immediately (yes, I know… there’s no way you can stop reading now, but you’ve been warned).

I found myself in the middle of a situation and I didn’t have the ability to pinpoint where my troubles were coming from.

This can be the death of a school administrator (not literally).

Lucky for me, fifteen years later I’m older and wiser.

Okay, just older.

Seriously, this is your last chance to bail out (save yourself, I’m begging you).

No?  So you are all in?  Alright, here we go.

Fifteen years ago, my child bride and I went to the movies.

From the moment we walked in I knew something was wrong.

What was it?

Did the movie stink?  Probably, but that wasn’t it.

Were there creepy teenagers making out in the balcony?  No.  There wasn’t a balcony.

Was the popcorn burnt and overpriced?  Negative.  It’ wasn’t burnt.

What was it?

There was a certain smell I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

A sort of stale moist haze lingered in the air.

It was almost pungent.

What was it?

I wasn’t sure, but I knew it was unpleasant.

Even back then I prided myself on the ability to diagnose a situation.

I can remember thinking I should be able to figure this out.

What is that smell?

I was a college graduate with nearly a year of teaching experience under my belt.  This shouldn’t have been a riddle wrapped in a mystery.

As the movie hit the halfway mark, I began to get frustrated.

What is that smell?  I couldn’t focus on anything but figuring out the strange odor.

Then it hit me.

My pants (or slacks for you older blog readers) were a little wet.

Actually, they were a lot wet.

Had I spilled my soda?  No, that wasn’t it.

What was it?

Had I had an “accident”.  No.  That will likely come in my later years.

Then I figured it out.

It was…

…still time to bail out people.

It was urine.

Yes, I said urine.

My own?


Unfortunately, I had not wet myself.  I have never in my life wished I had less bowel control than in that very moment.

It was urine alright.

The person who “used” my seat during the previous movie had been kind enough to leave me a little present.

They had used the movie seat as a giant urine sponge.

And I sat in it.

For over an hour.

There’s a lesson to be learned here for every man, woman, and child who is considering become a principal or superintendent.

One, always and I mean always make sure your tetanus shot is up to date.

And two, never ever assume where your problems are coming from.  They may not be 457 yards away.

They just might be right underneath you.

Sometimes you are better off focusing inward instead of outward.

Or at least underward.

Let it be known, you will never go to the movies without thinking about me…and checking the seat for unexpected moisture.

PS…I tried to warn you!

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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.