The Gangs Are Coming. They Are Just Running a Little Behind Schedule.


When I first started teaching, one of the big issues was gangs.Be Aware.

I can remember sitting through presentations that taught us what to look for.

Behaviors.  Colors.  Symbols.  And the always scary bandanas (we banned them just to be safe).

As teachers, we had to be careful and diligent so our schools and communities wouldn’t be taken over by these hoodlums.

They were coming from the city in souped up Chevys and we had to be ready.

Evidently, we were the first line of defense against crack-dealing gun-toting gang bangers.

I did my best, all while focusing on trying to get the 9th graders to stop talking in Keyboarding class.

Turns out, my best was pretty good because as far as I know the Chicago gangs left our farm kids alone.

As I look back, schools can sometimes be overly proactive.

Gangs.  Y2KSwine Flu.

If it’s new and scary, we do everything possible to stop it.

Sort of like cell phones.

Eight years ago, they were going to ruin our youth.

Actually, they probably have but not in the way we anticipated.

Educators thought if students were allowed to bring them into school, mayhem would insue.

It would be worse than a gang member who had swine flu and computer problems all rolled into one.

Cell phones were the enemy.

And we would crush them.

Turns out we were all idiots.

Now we all have cell phones and we can’t put them down or turn away.

Cell phones have stolen our attention span, but our kids seem to be okay.

Just a tip – if you see a student wearing red, blue, or black… call the authorities.  There’s a pretty good chance they have guns and drugs.  I learned this in my meeting 18 years ago.  Or they could, simply look good in red, blue, or black… but don’t take any chances.

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Generation Z: Their Learning Will Never End.


I’ve got bad news.

No, it’s not school is about to start (bad news for some… good news for moms).GenZ2

The world is changing.

Yes, you heard it here first (actually, you’ve probably already heard… but amuse me).

The world is changing.

Actually, it’s already changed. 

My best guess is the end of the world I grew up with died around the year 2000 (excuse me for not noticing… I was a little preoccupied by Y2K).

This means the new world has been around for roughly a decade (feel free to check my math).

And sadly, like far too many educators, I’m just now figuring it out.

Our children have moved on without us (not like the glorious day when the Evil Spawn moves out of my house… that’s an entirely different special occasion).

Kids today no longer want to play by our rules.

They don’t understand why schools are locked up at 3:30 and on weekends.

They don’t understand why computer labs contain equipment that is inadequate compared to what they use at home (and in the car).

They don’t understand why they’re constantly told to read more, yet school libraries are inaccessible for 3 months during the summer.

They don’t understand why teachers and administrators are given the option of improving their own technology skills.

They don’t understand why so many adults in charge of their education still seem to think PowerPoint is cutting edge (and while I’ve got your attention… if you still feel the need to use PowerPoint… stop using 18,000 words per slide!).

They don’t understand tenure or salary schedules.

But they do understand learning doesn’t begin and end for them at school.

Their education isn’t tied to a bell schedule or holiday breaks.

They know their education isn’t better because of worksheets, memorization, or mandated testing.

They get it.

They know what we still seem to be confused by.

They don’t need us.

The don’t need brick buildings that are only open 7 hours a day.

They have the internet.

And curiosity.

They’re going to learn with or without our help.

And the learning process is not going to stop for them after 8th grade.  Or high school.  Or even college.

They’re smarter than us right now.

And they’re going to be a lot smarter than us in 50  years.

The future isn’t coming, it’s already arrived.

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10 Years Ago: I Was Younger and an Idiot.


A single meeting can drag on for hours.  Days last forever.  And weeks seem like they will never end.

How is it that a decade can fly by so quickly?

By my estimation decades are about 10 years long (feel free to double-check my math).  That means the last ten years accounts for approximately 1/8 of my life (if all goes well).

I’m starting to get the feeling that I’m living on borrowed time (my life is half over… I hope it wasn’t the good half).Time Flies.

Before the inevitable happens (I’m crossing my fingers that my Evil Spawn doesn’t put me in a nursing home… or a crate), I want to acknowledge how things have changed for me since the good old days (the year 2000).

Back then:

I was a punk teacher who thought I had all the answers.  Now I’m a punk school administrator who realizes that I don’t have any answers (and barely know all of the questions).

I coached a high school varsity boys basketball team.  Now, I coach 3rd and 4th grade girls.

In 2000, I didn’t own my house, truck, a suit, or have any investments.

I believed athletes were honest (steroids), hard-working, and good people (sorry Tiger, but I’m still heart broken).

I trusted politicians.

Buddy the Dog didn’t rule my house (that I didn’t own).

I was a year away from meeting the Evil Spawn.

And hearing my wife curse like a sailor during childbirth.

I didn’t have a Master’s or Specialist’s Degree.

I had never been to Florida, Texas, California, Colorado or basically anywhere.  Mainly because I had never been on an airplane, in a cab, or on a train.

I didn’t have a passport.

Or a cell phone.

We had a computer (that was huge), but it was slower than the phone I now carry around in my pocket.

I used to read the newspaper and look forward to the mail arriving.

Google, Twitter, Posterous, and thousands of other technology things were yet to be discovered.

I was newly-married (and yet my wife hasn’t aged a day in the last 10 years… yes, she reads the blog).

I hadn’t written a blog, read a blog, or heard of a blog.

My big concern back then was Y2K, not the Swine Flu.

Gas was cheap, but I never thought about it.

I spent my evenings watching TV, not working on a laptop.

I had a credit card, but no money to pay it off (because every cent went to student loans).

Any maybe the biggest thing… in 2000 I had absolutely no concept of time.  I didn’t think about the future.  I didn’t think about anything. 

Oh, how life has changed.  So quickly, in such a short time.

It makes me wonder what I’m about to face in the next decade.  What we are all going to face.

In the world.  At school.  In our personal lives.

For me, the next 10 years means I will celebrate my 50th birthday (how is that possible?), my 25th anniversary (what was she thinking?), and my daughter’s high school graduation.

My biggest hope for the next decade is it goes a little slower than the last one.

And I don’t end it in a crate.


Note from wife… Newly married?  We got married in 1995.  A half a decade prior to 2000.  Does that still qualify as “newly married”?

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Snow Days and the Swine Flu.


Both of these are colossal pains in my… neck.

When you think about it, they are quite similar (besides being a pain in my… fine we’ll stick with neck).This Isn't Enought Snow to Cancel School.

Don’t believe me?

Both give you the chance to stay in bed and watch the Price is Right (no offense Mr. Carey, but I miss Bob Barker).

Granted one may cause you to stare into the bottom of the toilet bowl; but other than that, they have a lot in common.

Both may provoke the closing of schools this winter.

Both are covered on the local news in a way that makes you think the world is coming to an end.

I could go on and on, but that’s all I’ve got.

The Crisis of 2009 is the Swine Flu.  Of course it’s only “The Crisis” until something more exciting happens.  After all you can’t expect CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News to cover happy uplifting stories.

I really believe when something more “entertaining” (sadly, it will likely be horrific or involve rich people stealing our money…) comes along, we will have heard the last of the Swine Flu.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think this is the crisis to end all crises.

There’s no way it’s bigger than Y2K.

Okay, bad example.

Humans like to be scared.  We love rumors.  We thrive on drama. 

Most of all, we fear the unknown.

The Swine Flu is all of these wrapped up into one mysterious disease.

As an added bonus, pigs are gross.  Who wants to get sick from something that started with dirty farm animals (I’m hesitant to speak for the group… but not me)?

Long story short, the Swine Flu has caught America’s attention.  At least for now.

Who cares that the southern hemisphere is just coming out of their winter (and flu) season and they found the Swine Flu to be less of a big of deal than predicted.

We’re Americans.

And if we say the Swine Flu is going to be huge, it’s going to be HUGE.

At least until something else comes along.

It reminds me of Snow Days (without the shots of course).

Each year, parents and students focus on whether school will be dismissed because of snow.  The excitement continues to build as rumors of an impending storm spread like wildfire. 

The news media (i.e. those weather people who are almost always wrong) like nothing more than to fan the flames.

For a school administrator the first snow of the year is always the worst.

An inch can cause people to go completely ballistic.

The phone rings off the hook at school just as soon as the first snowflake hits the ground (sometimes days in advance… and I’m not kidding).

Winter Weather Crises come in 5 Stages:

Stage One – the initial news reports (a week in advance) saying we could get between a single flake and 1 inch of light snow.

Stage Two – sheer panic by the general public that if school is not dismissed literally thousands of people will die on the streets in car accidents or by starvation (hence the run on stores for food… which usually means cookies, soda, and renting a movie).  Total strangers, without children, repeatedly call the school to say the administrators are idiots (sorry, this has nothing to do with a snowstorm… this is just an average day).

Stage Three – school is cancelled and everyone survives to go sledding or the mall by 10:00 am.

Stage Four – later that same winter (after 8 other storms) an actual blizzard drops 29 inches of snow in 30 minutes (that’s a lot).

Stage Five – parents call the school, begging the administration not to dismiss because they are sick of having their children at home and they need to go to work.

I wonder if the Swine Flu Crisis won’t go much the same way.

Initially everyone is in a panic.  This will be especially true when a school district has their first student with Swine Flu.

But what happens when the 7th, or 19th, 52nd, or 1,000th person contracts it?

Will everyone still be as paranoid?

Or will we send our kids to school and go back to work?

Time may prove me wrong.  It has before.

I can’t tell you how silly I felt when I locked myself in the basement with beef jerky, bottled water, and 37 People Magazines as I anticipated Y2K.

Excuse me if I don’t trust the government and the news media.  But as the president’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said, "Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you couldn’t do before."

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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.