Educators (and Everyone) Should Give Thanks.


Thanksgiving means several things.

Lots of birds die.

Give a Bird a Break.

Gas prices rise because everyone is driving.

Summer is gone and it’s not coming back.

The local news predicts terrible weather so you will tune in to their station (I think they cross their fingers for the year’s first horrific storm).

Football is on and the Detroit Lions are still bad.

Football is on and stuffing is still bad.  Don’t email me and say it’s great, because if it was, people would make it more than once a year.

Families get together and talk (although they should stay away from the following topics:  politics, race, religion, Sarah Palin, Barack Obama, Dancing With the Stars, American Idol’s new judges, TSA, and especially gas prices).

If your family has at least one educator (most have more… and some have a lot more) you shouldn’t speak of the things they aren’t thankful for:  NCLB, testing, lack of funds, more paperwork, high-maintenance parents, not enough technology, underperforming schools, meetings, government’s unrealistic expectations, and school food.

What all of you should talk about is kids.

We should all be thankful for them.

The next generation (and every one after that) has the opportunity to be our best generation (if adults don’t mess them up).

If you haven’t noticed the kids today aren’t terrible malcontents; they are smart.

Really smart.

Way smarter than we were at the same age (and very likely smarter than we are now).

They have the ability to do more (probably with less) than we ever did.

They will change things, which will make us old people nervous, but it will be for the better.

The world is in good hands and whether you are in education or not, you should be thankful for them.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

If you are a turkey, thank a vegetarian.

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School Lunches: What Are We Doing to Our Kids?


food revolution

 

This blog carries many burdens. 

The main one is I can’t leave my house without NOT being recognized.

Thankfully, I’m getting used to this awkward and uncomfortable feeling (for the last time people… I look just like the cartoon… it’s just not that complicated).

Another is I constantly receive emails from people who want me to promote their products.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I will NOT schlep for your company.

I hope that’s clear enough.

No exceptions.

Unless you send me free stuff.

I have standards (I wear XL t-shirts in case you were wondering… and as it turns out, my standards are actually relatively low).

I just don’t feel comfortable capitalizing on the PrincipalsPage.com name (again, XL… and I’m still looking for a book and a movie deal… I have my fingers crossed that I will be played by one of the greatest actors of our generation, Mr. Morgan Freeman).

Until I get my big break (i.e. paid), I will continue passing on educationally related items that I believe will benefit the readers of this blog (and more importantly, students).

Today (or whenever you read this…), I want to share a new TV series about the food served by schools. 

It’s Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.

Sounds boring, but it isn’t.

Once you start watching, it’s hard to look away.

It’s like a car wreck.

If you watch just one TV series about lunch ladies… this is it.

His website describes the series (much better than I could) as being about how families eat, what kids get at school and why the diet of processed food and snacks is causing so many health and obesity problems.

The series was filmed in Huntington, West Virginia.

Jamie’s challenge was to see if he could get a whole community cooking again.

He worked with the school lunch ladies and local families to get everyone back in the kitchen and making tasty meals with fresh ingredients – no packets, no cheating. He’s started a Food Revolution: to get people all over America to reconnect with their food and change the way they eat.

Please take a few minutes and watch episodes 1 – 3 (you can watch the entire series on Hulu.com… which is free TV on the internet… welcome to 2010).

If you agree with the concept (and you will… unless you hate small children) click on the Food Revolution Badge and sign the petition in support of healthier school lunches.

petion

Mr. Oliver hopes to collect enough signatures so the White House will allow him to deliver the petition to President Obama.

If enough people sign in support, he just might get the right people to listen.

Like the First Lady Michelle Obama.

And if she’s happy, everyone’s happy (at least that’s how it works at my house).

Enjoy (and prepare yourself to be shocked and disgusted) the first three episodes (and don’t forget to watch the rest on ABC or Hulu.com).

 

Episode #1

 

Episode #2

 

Episode #3

I was kidding about Morgan Freeman playing me in a movie… he’s way too tall.

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The Education Party.


Schools in America are in trouble.

And I’m not talking about academically.  At least not in this blog.

I’m talking about financially.

We could argue about what has caused this gigantic monetary mess, but I don’t have that kind of time.

Ahh, who am I kidding.  I’ve got nothing but time (as these endless blogs prove over and over…).

In my mind, two groups are to blame for this mess.

Politicians and Voters.apple-full

Politicians are number one on my list because they are simpletons.  They are incapable of making a single rationale decision on behalf of the people they represent.  As a group, they are more “me” than “we” (I just went Obama on you… or if you’re old school, I just went Jesse Jackson).

Number two on my list?  Voters. 

Why?  Because we continue to send the same geniuses back to our local, state, and federal governments. (and by geniuses, I don’t mean geniuses).

We don’t need term limits, we need a clue (although term limits wouldn’t hurt).

There is something else that will help keep both groups in line.  We need a 3rd political party.

And it should be named The Education Party (I kind of gave that away in the title didn’t I?).

It will be “The Party for Our Future” (I really should copyright that..).

Every political party needs a mascot and ours will be an Apple.  This means we will get free advertising from 84% of elementary teachers who already own a sweater with the party symbol on it (I briefly considered going with a Snowman because 99% of elementary teachers own sweaters with those on them).

The party will stand for the following:  children.  Yes that’s right, children.  Period.

We will believe in: not lying, playing fair, no bullying of other countries, not spending money we don’t have, and all of the other values good parents and educators try to instill in our kids.

As our party name implies, we will be pro-education.

But not pro-education in making things easier for administrators and teachers.

Pro-education in making things better for students. 

Longer school days?  Maybe.  School on Saturday?  Possibly.  Year-round school calendar?  I hope not, but we have to be open to anything.  Keep tenure?  Only if it’s good for kids.  Higher pay for school employees?  Yes, but it will come with higher expectations.  Open enrollment to make districts compete like businesses?  Count me in.  Placing students at grade level based on ability, not age?  Definitely.

Most importantly, we will run on a platform of teaching our students the basics.  But the basics for this century, not the last one.

Reading (and lots of it), Math, Science, English, History (and just not our version), Foreign Languages (in elementary school), Technology (current, not Microsoft Works), Health and Nutrition (like PE, but not just whiffle ball), and last but not least… Personal Discipline and Responsibility (after all, we don’t want our kids to grow up and be like our present politicians).

The Education Party will be the party of change.

Not the party of yesterday, but the party of tomorrow (more Obama/Jackson).

We will endorse candidates who demand schools look toward the future, while still understanding we need to base our beliefs in our more conservative past (like the Andy Griffith show, but with laptops and the ability to speak Chinese).

This financial crisis could be the best thing to happen to education in the last 100 years.

But it may not be enough to just change education, we may need to change the people who make the decisions on education.

As an added bonus:  all of The Education Party Conventions will be held in San Diego.  I like it there.  It’s warm.

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The Weather is Too Nice to Blog.


I’m taking the day off from blogging.  Laying (lying… whatever) low.  Going incognito if you will.

It’s the weekend and I deserve some time off (plus my garage is a mess and Buddy is starting to complain about his unsanitary living conditions).I Don't Cantore Would Wear a Stocking Cap in San Diego.  But I Can Hope.

At least for today, no sitting at Larry the Laptop and trying to blog about something amusing and/or entertaining (often failing miserably, but you have to admire my effort).

Where I live the weather is perfect.  Sunshine, no wind, and 72 degrees.  In my part of the world, that’s pretty good for early November.  Actually, that’s pretty good wherever you live.

Ok who am I kidding?  This type of weather has only happened twice in this part of the US…and one of those times I missed it because I was on vacation!  Undoubtedly, I was sitting somewhere really HOT watching the Weather Channel only to find out it was perfect weather where I live.  I HATE THAT!

Of course, if you are reading this in San Diego you probably don’t understand why this is a big deal.

Of course, if you are in San Diego please realize the rest of us hate you.

Why my anger towards San Diegans?

Because I watch the Weather Channel for 2 reasons.

One, to see if my state is going to get hammered by some sort of once every 100 years weather event.  And two, to see what other part of the country is going to get hammered (if the map is dark purple over your town… that’s not good).

San Diego never comes up in these reports.

Not once have I seen Jim Cantore (maybe I have a man crush… maybe I don’t) standing on a pier in San Diego wearing a free Weather Channel parka about to get blown 40 miles into the ocean. 

To review, if you live within 100 miles of San Diego, I hate you because you never feel weather suffering (or I am extremely jealous… I get these two confused).

This brings me back to no blogging.

I have the garage to deal with.  The Weather Channel to watch (have to see who is about to get crushed!!).

I also need to mow my yard for the last time (this is the 4th time I’ve mowed it for the last time… what’s a guy have to do to get a good hard frost???).

Buddy the Dog also needs a bath.  He’s not that dirty, but I live in fear that his next cleaning could be his last until mid-June.

He is going to be one ripe beagle after playing in the snow for the next 4 months (and I also anticipate… quite tired).

Normally, I try to blog at least 3 times a week.

This is my tried and true method of getting readers.  It’s a little something I like to call “Quantity over Quality.”

3 a week equals roughly 10-12 a month.  My odds of getting one “not terrible” entry is pretty good.

Today, under normal circumstances, I would have slopped together something about one of the following:  Swine Flu (ready made for sarcasm), the ever increasing unemployment rate (I thought when I voted for you Mr. President this was supposed to go down…), the impending financial crises of 2010 in education (always a ton of laughs in this material), or maybe the Health Care Bill (what could possibly go wrong with a trillion dollar program when the government is in charge???).

But not today.

No blog.

No sarcasm.

Just chores (but at least the sun is shining).

So if you stopped by to read something educationally related or borderline humorous, I apologize.

Maybe next time.

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How President Obama Can Improve Schools. For Free.


I don’t mean to be Captain Obvious, but I have noticed during the course of my career that K-12 education could use some tweaking.

You may not have picked up on the issues because they are so subtle.

Or maybe you have just been busy with NCLB and testing (the first 3 sentences can be chalked up to sarcasm and anger issues… we will now return to our regularly scheduled blog…).

The truth is education isn’t perfect and probably never will be.POTUS.

There are way too many variables to make every school great for all students.

Even though this is an uphill battle, I want to do my part.

What better way to improve education than to tell the President of the United States how he should do his job.

Let’s not kid ourselves, the man needs my help.

And please don’t thank me, it’s the least I can do.

President Obama is busy. I noticed he has a lot going on with this whole economy thing.

Saving the banks, the car companies, helping people sell their houses, trying to keep everyone employed, and making sure Vice-President Biden doesn’t say something we will all regret is a lot of work for one man.

I don’t think he has the time to focus on education.

So I am here to help (I will assume the moans and laughter I hear coming from the Blog readers are sounds of respect and relief…. and surely not mockery and disgust…).

Fixing education is a big challenge. It’s an expensive proposition and since the government can’t just print more money (excuse me for a moment… while I try not to laugh…), I think the President needs some cheap alternatives.

I have an idea that will not only improve students and schools, but the entire country.

Not just in the short term, but for decades.

It will touch the lives of every citizen in this great land.

And the best part? It’s free.

Yes, you heard me… free.

The President can use my idea to cement his legacy as The Great Education President (this sounds a lot better that “The Man Who Has to Keep an Eye on the Biden Guy 24/7”).

My advice is pure gold (if I am hyping this too much… please let me know… micsmith@principalspage.com).

I would charge President Obama, but I know he is on a limited income. He is also facing the prospect of putting two daughters through college (I feel badly for him… his wife isn’t even working… and he has that new dog to feed).

My idea: The President needs to hold a press conference on national TV and address one subject.

He should speak directly to the school children of America and say that starting today; he expects every school in the country to…

…recycle.

All milk cartons, cans, newspapers, magazines, and every piece of paper.

No exceptions.

All students and all schools.

He should add that these students need to model this behavior at home and get their parents and relatives to recycle.

I am positive that kids will listen to the President when he speaks directly to them.

Just think, literally overnight the President of the United States can improve schools, student’s behavior towards the environment, and influence parents and families… all for free.

It will be like reverse peer pressure. Young people changing older people’s behaviors.

After one speech the world will be a better place.

I am sure there are readers who are going to say “This would just be another unfunded mandate. How are schools going to pay for this?”

Pay for what?

Schools could use the trash cans they have now. Or boxes. Or whatever containers they can get their hands on.

State and local government should be expected to give school districts a discount or even free recycling dumpsters for all the materials they are about to produce.

What’s the downside?

There isn’t one as far as I can tell.

Nobody likes the government telling us what do, but in this case everybody wins.

The environment, communities, children, and the President.

The students of today will take this lesson and behavior into the rest of their lives and the world will be better for it.

Students will listen to the President. Especially a young, cool President.

I took the government’s advice when I was a kid.

They said in the event of a nuclear war… hide under your desk with your hands covering your head.

I did. And I am alive today to blog about it.

Thank you government. Without your sage advice, I might not be here today. I might have died while sitting in my desk with my head uncovered.

And thank you in advance President Obama for saving our planet.

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President Obama and Great Teachers Have This in Common.


Professor Obama.

Professor Obama.

Today was one of those days that our great grandchildren will read about in history books (like books will exist when my great grandchildren are running around… or laying on the couch if they take after their grandma).

In my 40 years there are only a few days that get their own chapter in textbooks (or hard drives… or whatever technology exists by then).

There is 9/11, the Challenger crash, OJ’s trial (first…), and… well, that’s all I’ve got.

What separates today (which if you have been living under a rock was President Obama’s inauguration) is that it is the only positive event that I can list.

In 40 years, I can come up with a grand total of one.

That is a little sad when you think about it.

What I can come up with is President Obama reminds me of a great teacher.

You say how can the leader of the free world remind me of a teacher? How can the most popular politician of the last 25 years remind me of a teacher? How can the first African American President remind me of a teacher?

Great teachers are focused, committed, energetic, and passionate. Great teachers get people to follow them. Great teachers make others believe anything is possible.

A great teacher can energize an entire group.

They can walk in the classroom a transform the attitude of everyone they meet.

One person is able to change the dynamic of an entire group. One person, such as a great teacher, can make a difference

A great teacher can provide a different perspective on the same old problems. They can take difficult situations and find solutions.

They don’t see obstacles, but opportunities.

They make others feel better about themselves, especially when things are there most difficult.

A great teacher provides hope.

Just like President Obama.

Today was one of those days that our great grandchildren will read about in history books (like books will exist when my great grandchildren are running around… or laying on the couch if they take after their grandma).

In my 40 years there are only a few days that get their own chapter in textbooks (or hard drives… or whatever technology exists by then).

There is 9/11, the Challenger crash, OJ’s trial (first…), and… well, that’s all I’ve got.

What separates today (which if you have been living under a rock was President Obama’s inauguration) is that it is the only positive event that I can list.

In 40 years, I can come up with a grand total of one.

That is a little sad when you think about it.

What I can come up with is President Obama reminds me of a great teacher.

You say how can the leader of the free world remind me of a teacher? How can the most popular politician of the last 25 years remind me of a teacher? How can the first African American President remind me of a teacher?

Great teachers are focused, committed, energetic, and passionate. Great teachers get people to follow them. Great teachers make others believe anything is possible.

A great teacher can energize an entire group.

They can walk in the classroom a transform the attitude of everyone they meet.

One person is able to change the dynamic of an entire group. One person, such as a great teacher, can make a difference

A great teacher can provide a different perspective on the same old problems. They can take difficult situations and find solutions.

They don’t see obstacles, but opportunities.

They make others feel better about themselves, especially when things are there most difficult.

A great teacher provides hope.

Just like President Obama.

Today was one of those days that our great grandchildren will read about in history books (like books will exist when my great grandchildren are running around… or laying on the couch if they take after their grandma).

In my 40 years there are only a few days that get their own chapter in textbooks (or hard drives… or whatever technology exists by then).

There is 9/11, the Challenger crash, OJ’s trial (first…), and… well, that’s all I’ve got.

What separates today (which if you have been living under a rock was President Obama’s inauguration) is that it is the only positive event that I can list.

In 40 years, I can come up with a grand total of one.

That is a little sad when you think about it.

What I can come up with is President Obama reminds me of a great teacher.

You say how can the leader of the free world remind me of a teacher? How can the most popular politician of the last 25 years remind me of a teacher? How can the first African American President remind me of a teacher?

Great teachers are focused, committed, energetic, and passionate. Great teachers get people to follow them. Great teachers make others believe anything is possible.

A great teacher can energize an entire group.

They can walk in the classroom a transform the attitude of everyone they meet.

One person is able to change the dynamic of an entire group. One person, such as a great teacher, can make a difference

A great teacher can provide a different perspective on the same old problems. They can take difficult situations and find solutions.

They don’t see obstacles, but opportunities.

They make others feel better about themselves, especially when things are there most difficult.

A great teacher provides hope.

Just like President Obama.

Comments: 12
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Change. Sounds Like a Great Idea, for You.


Alright, So Not All Change Works Out.The word “change” has been front and center in the 2008 Presidential campaign. I am guesstimating that is was used about every 3 seconds.

Senator McCain and President-elect Obama both used the word on a daily basis. By the way, I am already growing weary of the “President-elect” phrase.

They said it and the news media repeated it. And repeated it. And repeated it again. And again (you get the point).

I heard the word change at least 48,307 times in the last month (I am a very good with numbers).

Oh, how I will miss those campaign commercials where I was told change is coming. I can hardly wait for this monumental change to take place.

I am giddy with anticipation. This may be more exciting than a snow day.

Change is a good thing. Possibly a great thing.

Isn’t it?

I hear people talk about change on a daily basis. It seems to be a hot topic at school (along with what’s for lunch and how many days until the next long weekend).

As educators, we want change. After all, we are teaching the leaders of the future. It is in our DNA to focus on the future.

Each day, we look the status qou in the eye and demand that it changes.

In our minds, everyone should change. Students, parents, school boards, and the federal government.

Evidently, we not only like change, we love it. It is the cornerstone of the educational process.

Except.

Except when the big bony finger of change is pointed in our direction.

We don’t necessarily like that.

Things are going pretty well. Especially in my classroom. Or in my office.

In these cases, let’s just leave well enough alone.

Change is a beautiful thing, as long as it happens down the hall.

As you can see, I am torn.

In an effort to change this attitude (get it?), I have decided to share some of my favorite quotes on change.

I would also like you to know why they don’t apply to me.

Change is inevitable. Progress is optional. – Anonymous

My retirement is also inevitable. If we could hold off on this change stuff for about 18 years, I would really appreciate it.

When you’re finished changing, you’re finished. – Benjamin Franklin

If I make wholesale changes this school year, what will I do for the last 17 years of my career?

We must become the change we wish to see in the world. – Mahatma Gandhi

I hate to argue with Gandhi, so let’s leave this one alone.

Do, or do not. There is no try. – Yoda

If Yoda can’t guarantee that the change will be immediately successful, I am not interested.

I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better. – George C. Lichtenberg

If I don’t buy into Yoda’s theory, I am certainly not going to listen to some German scientist (by the way, who is this guy?).

You can judge your age by the amount of pain you feel when you come in contact with a new idea. – Pearl S. Buck

Thank you for making my point Mrs. Buck. I am too old to change (see my impending retirement).

Actually, if you haven’t figured it out yet, I am mocking the fact that change is painful to many of us.

As an administrator, I believe one of the major parts of my job is convincing people that change is a good thing.

Sometimes what is best for our students makes us just a little uncomfortable.

This leads me to my last two quotes about change. These may be the most important quotes that you read in the next 30 seconds.

I am thinking about having these carved into my desk (but it is a metal desk so that would just be weird… and noisy).

If you want to make enemies, try to change something. – Woodrow Wilson

And even more importantly…

Change is inevitable, except from vending machines. – Unknown

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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.