When Did Average Become Below Average?

Not Sad, But True.Question:  In your school or community, how many students made the Honor Roll?

Answer:  Most of them (no, I’m not a psychic… but I did play one on TV).

If you don’t believe me (and thank you for calling me a liar), the next time it’s in your local paper count the number of students listed.

Then compare it to the number enrolled.

You will discover what many educators already know.  The majority of students do VERY well.

At least with their grades.

We are raising a generation of students who believe success is the only option.

The Honor Roll is way different from students doing well on mandated testing. 

Or the ACT or SAT.

Turns out when Honor Roll students take these tests, some do great… some do “not as” great (which is okay, or at least it should be okay).

What is it about our society that we’ve come to believe every student must be successful?

I always thought you learned more from failure than from success.  More from losing than winning (and I speak as someone who has lost a lot).

Why aren’t C’s okay?

When did average become disappointing?

Did the Honor Roll expand around the same time we started giving out participation trophies?

Does every kid have to be recognized as being good at everything?

Shouldn’t the majority of students in any class be average?

Shouldn’t half get C’s and above and the other half C’s and below?

Isn’t that okay?

I wonder if we are doing more harm than good when we promote false expectations in students (and parents… not that there are any parents with unrealistic expectations… I’m just throwing it out there).

When report cards go home, shouldn’t parents be more concerned about how much their child has learned rather than what grade they’ve received?

Wouldn’t C’s be great if the student was 100 times smarter at the end of school  year?

As opposed to receiving all A’s and B’s and only being 10 times smarter?

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Acceptable Behavior.

Once a teacher, always a teacher.

When you teach, you get more than a paycheck.

You get special powers.I'll Give You Something to Cry About.

The most sacred of all of these powers is the ability to correct a child with a “look”.

Any child.

Any time.

Any where.

Restaurants, movie theaters, ballgames, and church are just a few of the places where this gift comes in handy.

If I have to explain this concept (or the “look”), you have never been alone in a classroom of 25+ students (please feel free to replace the word “students” with something more descriptive).

Having the gift also means you have the innate ability to judge others on their parenting skills (I’m not proud of this and I’m not saying it is right… I’m just saying it happens).

The other day I heard a parent say to their child “Your behavior is not acceptable!”

I wanted to say (although you will be proud of me for biting my tongue…) “His behavior is completely acceptable or else he wouldn’t do it.”

And that is teaching and parenting in a sentence.

Most kids do exactly what is expected of them.

Nothing more.

Nothing less.

Discipline is the gift that keeps on giving.

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It seems the entire educational system is based on perception.

No one seems to know the truth, so we all rely on how we want to perceive the truth.

Show people test scores, financial documents, or statistics and they will try to rationalize or explain them away (excuses are like… well, never mind).

How You See Yourself and How Others See You Is Two Different Things.

Think about it.

Most parents believe they live in a good school district.

This can’t be true for all of us, can it?

Some of us must live in an average or even below average district.

Many parents seem to believe their child is easily one of the best athletes in school (if not the state… if the coach would just put them in the game).

This goes hand in hand with parents thinking every coach needs to be fired (there has to be some kid who is less than a great athlete… isn’t there?).

Most teachers feel like they do a wonderful job every day.

They can’t all be great 100% of the time, can they?

Most administrators think they are working harder than all the other principals and superintendents combined (surely one of us isn’t as great as we think we are…).

How is this possible?

Isn’t at least one of us the lazy one (don’t answer this if you have even a smidge of anger towards administrators… and if you’re honest, many of you do)?

Most school boards think they only hire the best and brightest.

Isn’t this a statistical impossibility?

Communities believe they can do a better job making school decisions at a local level than the state or federal government.

The federal government believes they can do a better job making decisions at the local level than the states.

States are just confused (and sadly broke).

Everyone believes their school is safe.  And clean.  And structured.  And financially conservative.  And providing a great learning environment for all of their students.

How can this be true?

Or do we just want it to be true?

People say Perception is Reality.  Isn’t Reality… Reality?

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11 Things Kids Will Not Learn in School.


Life is NOT fair – get used to it.

The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

RULE 3 You May Have to Work for This Guy.
You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice president with car phone, until you earn both.

If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. 

Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping:  they called it OPPORTUNITY.


If you mess up,it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

The rules are taken from the book "Dumbing Down our Kids" by educator Charles Sykes. It is a list of eleven things you did not learn in school and directed at high school and college grads.

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Parents Hate Principals.

This isn’t completely true. Not all parents hate the principal at their child’s school.

I thought it was important to clarify because I don’t want to be responsible for scaring off teachers who are considering a career move to school administration.

We need good quality young people to go into the profession.Can't We All Just Get Along.

Actually, we (or I) need a good young person to take my job.

You know the word “Retirement” means “Sweet, I Can Go Golfing” in Latin (if you don’t believe me, look it up… on the other hand, just take my word for it).

This needs to happen soon, while I’m still young (I’m not kidding… get yourself in a Master’s program and get your degree… NOW!).

Theoretically, it’s possible for a parent to like a principal.

In fact, once in the late 1970’s there was a parent in one of the western states (can’t remember the name of it but it has snow… or mountains… or maybe cowboys live there… not exactly sure) that loved their school principal.

Alright, I’m exaggerating.

This is a little something I like to do to move the blog along. I learned this when I was an English major in college.

Actually, that’s just an out and out lie. I couldn’t have been an English major because I couldn’t spell it (and by it, I mean the word “English”… I have been able to spell “it” for as long as I can remember).

Also, there wasn’t a parent out west who liked his or her principal.

That’s also a lie.

No one likes principals.

They are despised by everyone. Including parents. In every state. Including the states where it snows and cowboys live.

Parents and principals have a very special relationship. (Science teachers, this is your one and only symbiotic reference).

And by special, I mean they are sworn enemies.

It has to work this way. It’s like Good vs. Evil. Kardashians vs. Good Taste. Jerry vs. Newman (Seinfeld reference… Yes!!!). Buddy the Dog vs. Rabbits (another lie… Buddy loves rabbits… it’s really quite pathetic).

Parents and principals need each other.

Without the other, neither exists.

Parents need someone at school in which to direct their thoughts (i.e. anger) on the educational system and its treatment of their child (this is commonly referred to as “You Will Be Hearing From My Lawyer!”).

Principals need parents. Without a mom or dad barging into the office yelling and threatening to sue, why would schools even need a principal?

Honestly, couldn’t a secretary just run things?

As long as there are children and schools, parents and principals will be tied together.

So don’t worry that they don’t like each other.

It’s supposed to be that way.

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The Golden Rule: Scream at Others and They Will Scream at You.

I can neither confirm nor deny any or all of the following is true.

Parents are crazy.

I’m not talking about all parents, just the ones who are insane.

The actual percentage of parents who suffer from this disease runs from 32.4% to 99.9%.

The parent in this story is not affiliated with my school in any way, shape, or form (and if my luck continues they will never purchase a house, rent, or visit a town where I work or reside). The Woman in Question is Not Nearly This Nice.  Or So I Heard.

In fact, as far as you know this story was told to me by a complete stranger who I inadvertently bumped into on a busy street in a city that I’ve never visited.

As the story goes, the woman gave birth to a young man who I don’t even know.

If I did know him, I can promise you I would want to thump him right upside his little head in the hope of closing that mouth which is constantly running but has yet to say anything worth hearing.

The woman, who may be the loudest most obnoxious person I have never been in contact with, is roughly 25 years old.

Did I mention she was loud?

And obnoxious?

I’m not being mean (after all I’ve never seen her… as far as you know), I’m simply passing on a story.

You might wonder how I know she’s loud if I’ve never been around her. That’s a fair question.

The answer is… trust me, she’s loud.

At least that’s what I’ve been told.

The first time I didn’t meet her she was screaming at her son. The second time I didn’t meet her, she was screaming at her son.

The third time he was standing on the hood of her car and yes… you guessed it… she was screaming at him.

In fact, every single time I haven’t seen her she has been screaming. At her son.

If you’re like me, you are starting to notice a pattern.

I’m no parenting expert, but sooner or later even the worst kids have a day when they don’t deserve to get yelled at.

I was almost starting to feel sorry for the young man (if I knew him) and then it happened.

He started screaming at her.

You might think I would experience some sort of joy from watching (or not) him stand up for himself, but that’s not the case.

It just made me want to thump them both upside their heads.

The latest screaming match took place (allegedly) during an 8 year olds soccer game.

While I had gotten used to the mother screaming at her son (if I had been present at this soccer game that didn’t take place), I was dumbfounded to hear him scream at her.

As he was playing in the game.

As he was dribbling the ball up the field.

Right in front of all the parents. Of both teams.

Right in front of all the players. On both teams.

The horror.

The language.

The decibel level.

At that very moment (if I was there), I thought the referee should have thrown them both out of the game.

Then I came to my senses.

He should have thrown them both out of society.

In her defense, I don’t think she has any idea that she is treating him in a way that isn’t productive. In fact, I’m willing to bet she thinks her actions are those of a strong disciplinarian.

On the other hand (if I knew him), he is an idiot.

He treats his mom worse than she treats him. The sad part is, his attitude will undoubtedly get worse as he gets older.

I’m afraid her troubles will be compounded (times 47) by the time he makes it to high school.

Neither one of them has any idea how to treat one another.

I’m far from perfect, but I feel pretty confident in the following statement. My daughter has never cursed me during the course of a soccer game as she was dribbling the ball up the field in front of 75 spectators, 4 coaches, 3 referees, 2 old ladies walking, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Now behind closed doors… in her room… who knows? .

Maybe I’m wrong about these two.

Maybe they have a great relationship and they will both thrive as they grow older.

Maybe she won’t be in a high school principal’s office asking for help in controlling his behaviors when he’s a sophomore.

Maybe he won’t have kids of his own and treat them just as badly as he is getting treated.


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New Principals: You Can’t Say I Didn’t Warn You.

As we get ready for a new school year, I feel a sense of obligation to share some important information with new school administrators.

I can only hope they are sitting down.This is Not a Happy Person.

Although new administrators probably aren’t sitting… or even taking time to read this blog (or eat or sleep).

It’s very likely they are busy drowning under the paperwork that is already piling up on their desk.

But there’s good news. They will survive (at least some of them).

In the meantime, this blog will be here waiting patiently (until they get their new jobs under control or become unemployed).

The information I’m about to share will come as a total shock because colleges and universities seldom share this little fun fact with the students in their graduate programs.

So here I go.


Are you sure?

Okay, here it is.

Parents are going to sue you.

A lot.

And by a lot, I mean several times each year (if you are “popular” this may happen several times in a single day… usually a day with a full moon).

You need to prepare yourself, not just for your impending legal trouble but also for the noise.

Parents seldom say they are going to sue you in a nice quiet inside voice.

They scream it.

You will recognize this event happening when you hear the cursing which is then followed by finger pointing (literally and figuratively).

As soon as you see a finger (hopefully index) being pointed in your direction, cover your ears.

Because the “Suing Announcement” is always concluded by the act of slamming.

After all, good parents must always express their love by yelling at authority figures (I need to check but I’m almost positive this rule is on the back of each child’s birth certificate).

The formula is a simple one. The Louder the Parent = the More They Love Their Child.

Parents get bonus points if they make a scene in a public place.

In the main office, at a game, the grocery store, maybe even at a funeral (sad and disturbing… but true).

But back to the slamming.

Parents can be very creative.

They will slam almost anything to make their point. It could a phone, office door, fist, chair, basketball… pretty much any object can do the trick.

The good news is once this happens, the conversation (or threat) is coming to a close.

There is something else you should know.

There is also a direct correlation between how loud parents scream and the odds of you really getting sued.

This formula. The Louder the Threat = Less of a Chance of Them Having a Lawyer.

So now you’ve been warned.

Let the suing (or not) begin! (if it hasn’t already happened during registration)

Lucky for us (people foolish enough to try and run a school) these threats don’t happen every day.

Angry parents usually take Sunday mornings off.

However the rest of the week, school administrators are fair game (especially when you’re trying to eat or leave school in a timely manner).

This doesn’t really seem fair to me because even deer have an offseason.

But those are the rules that school administrators have to live by, so make sure you have the school lawyer on speed dial.

Because you’re about to get sued.

Or not.

But you’re definitely getting yelled at.

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“You’re a Child!”

Cute Baby.

Cute Baby.

When you work in a school you have access to all kinds of information.

Mostly you learn that you wish you didn’t learn so much.

Playing a small role in raising hundreds of students is a challenge. But it doesn’t hold a candle to raising your own child.

That is a challenge of almost indescribable proportions.

Being a school administrator makes you think twice about reproducing. Isn’t it about time the government steps in and helps decide who gets to have children and how many?

Oh yeah, the government has its hands full messing everything else up. Never mind.

As an educator it makes you mull over how many evil spawns you should bring into the world (and please don’t think my concerns were with my wife… it was my half of the baby that worried me…)

As an added bonus, when you have kids it is terribly difficult to choose a name that hasn’t been ruined by kids you had in school.

There are several guidelines to this process.

If you have given a detention to a student, that name is out. If you have ever yelled down the hallway at a student, the name is out. If have stuck your name in a bathroom and screamed a name, you can’t use it.

Also, if a name you are particularly fond of has been involved in a fight, arrest, or expulsion… you cannot use it for your child.

Since the first 6 years of my teaching career involved junior high lunch duty, about 84% of names were already on the NO List (this list should not be confused with my wife’s list… the Hell No list).

Plus, as a teacher/coach you get very good at knowing what nickname your child will be burdened with if you make an unwise choice.

You have to stay away from any name than rhymes with anything that is funny to a 7th grade boy. And sadly, everything is funny to a 7th grade boy.

Mulva and Delores just weren’t options for our baby girl (Seinfeld reference… if you don’t get this you need to watch more TV).

My wife and I are now proud owners of a 7 year old. Sounds fun, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

She is a good girl, but when we picked her up at the hospital we quickly figured out that she came with baggage (and I am not just talking about her endless supply of clothes, stuffed animals, and blankets).

She thinks she is 37.

She also thinks her parents are walking banks, housekeepers, cooks, and chauffeurs.

This can be very demanding as we try to raise her and hold down full-time jobs.

As her father, I feel extra pressure.

Since she is an only child (and loves it), I am not only her dad, but coach, brother, and when she is a teenager… her bodyguard.

These are roles that I try to perform successfully, but I am not going to lie… it’s a big job for a middle-aged man who would kill for a nap.

I have learned something during my 7 years as a parent. I have truly come to appreciate how challenging it is to raise a child.

Or 3. Or 5. Or a liter. (I am not even going to mention the horrific scientific experiment know as the Octomom)

I honestly don’t know how people do it.

The discipline. The homework. The jam packed schedules. The endless eye rolling, sighing, slamming of stuff, and the stomping off.

Raising a child (or worse, children) is stressful and time consuming. Some days I am happy to be able to get back to work (at least we have a discipline handbook at school).

Don’t get me wrong, most people would consider my daughter low maintenance. But that is because they don’t live with her.

Even the best kids need some redirection and discipline from time to time.

If you visited our house in the last couple of months you would hear “You’re a CHILD!” screamed loudly… a lot.

It happens at least 3 times a day. More when behavior is an issue.

And the worst part?

It’s what my daughter yells at me.

She is evidently counting the days until I grow up.

I hate to tell her, but once you take on the responsibility of having a father… he is yours forever.

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Maybe Punishing Parents Isn’t Such a Bad Idea After All.

I've Got an Idea!Every so often a student will get in trouble at school.

I know, I know… this comes as a shock to most of you. This is the dirty little secret of education. Students don’t always do exactly what they are told.

But wait, there’s more. You may want to sit down.

Students almost always know the difference between right and wrong. It’s true. I seldom run into a kid who doesn’t understand this concept.

Don’t get me wrong, they may not care but they know.

This knowledge of what is right certainly doesn’t stop them from testing the rules from time to time. Hopefully, this only happens occasionally (because the 1% who are chronic wear me out…)

And when these little bumps in the road happen, it’s okay. Kids are in school to learn. About math, science, social skills, being part of a team, appropriate behavior, and how much they can push the system before they get pushed back.

In my estimation, it is a good thing that students test the boundaries. This is how they learn. And they often pick up these valuable skills from others (sometimes they gain invaluable knowledge from the worst kid in your class… like don’t set the garbage can (or a freshman) on fire).

As educators, our job is to teach students these lessons along with a thousand more (it’s a big job, but it beats working for a living).

Our students need to learn these behaviors before we send them out in the real world.

Of course, while I believe in this, it would be nice if they didn’t test my limits late on Friday afternoon. Or Monday mornings. Or any day where I was up late the night before. Or especially during my lunch break.

Students will make mistakes and it is our job to correct them (consider it job security).

This part of the process never frustrates me.

I have found some of my most loyal students are the ones I have had to discipline in the past.

Once you get them through the process, they are better off for it. And they know it. They may not admit it, but they know it.

Now parents, they are a different story.

I particularly enjoy parents who want to take the blame for their child.

As in “It was my fault they were late. Punish me.” Or “They didn’t get their homework done because I had to go to (fill in the blank). You should give me the detention.”

My response is always the same. We aren’t here to teach parents a lesson.

Although once, just once, I think I would like to punish the parent.

Maybe a Saturday School, a suspension, or even an expulsion.

I truly believe this idea has some merit because just like with kids, you wouldn’t have to punish all the parents to make a point. Just a few.

Bad news travels fast.

And the rest of your parents would learn a valuable lesson.

A lesson they evidently didn’t learn when they went through school.

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Nothing Good Happens After Midnight.

Even This Wolf Should Be Home.I was reminded of this saying last night when one of our smoke detectors starting beeping… every 45 seconds… every 45 seconds… every 45 seconds…

… until I dragged my big tired behind out of bed and pulled the battery out. The official time was 3:53 a.m.

I tried to wait it out until someone else got up and fixed it, but no one seemed concerned that the house might be on fire (my reaction was the same when I heard the baby cry… ride it out and act like you’re asleep).

Did I mention that I had to get dressed, go out into the cold garage, and bring in a 10 foot step ladder?

By the end of this little construction project, I was wide awake.

What a lovely way to start my Sunday. What happened to the days when I could sleep in? What happened to the days when I didn’t own a smoke detector?

Another question: Why do smoke alarms only need new batteries in the middle of the night? They never seem to go bad in the afternoon.

This annoying, slightly exhausting experience reminded me of what my dad used to say when I was a teenager.

“Nothing good happens after midnight.”

It’s true.

In this case and in every other.

Seldom has anything productive or positive happened after the hands on the clock say 12:00 a.m. (or if you are younger than 25… when the digital clock on your cell phone reads 12:00 am).

I believe more parents should keep this in mind. Especially, as their kids grow older and demand more freedom. The first thing young people ask for are longer hours to be with their friends (and a Wii, cell phone, mp3 players, a car, and everything else expensive and electronic).

Too often, teenagers (and sadly, even younger kids) find themselves in complicated situations that seem to always happen in the middle of the night.

Usually these events occur well after they should be home. And compounding the problem, these kids are generally completely unsupervised by clear thinking adults.

You rarely pick up a newspaper and read that a young person (or worse, a group) has gotten themselves into trouble between the hours of 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. (or read about it online, as it is 2008)

These things always happen way later than what should be considered a reasonable hour for a child to be out.

And often it is after midnight.

So the next time a curfew is set, I hope someone remembers the advice that I got and didn’t want.

Nothing good happens after midnight.

Actually, that isn’t true. One good thing can happen.

The teenager can grow up and have their own smoke alarms to worry about.

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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.