Kids are NOT Pill Boxes. By David Reid Otey

Kids are NOT Pill Boxes. By David Reid Otey

Pill boxes are nice for organizing the right pills for the right days and for the right times. This ensures having exactly what you need when you need it and in the right amount you need. There is no creativity involved in the process. It is cut and dry, simple as pie, easy as a straight line. Structure IS important for specific ultra sensitive issues such as medical needs and physical therapy and making healthy safe meals. Each of these areas have detailed task analysis, proven action-reaction relationships, undoubtable proven results from definite combinations of elements with very predictable expectations. BUT-kids are not THOSE kind of elements.

Kids are human beings. The variations of human beings cannot be simply classified by IQ, environment, heredity, neighborhood, county, state, country, continent nor economic status. The results of human reactions to thousands of variables have shown that one can always expect to be shocked and surprised at the predictable unpredictability of human beings. Senseless things can be of the upmost importance, like the songs, Red Solo Cup, and What does the Fox say. Humans shake their heads at each other, wondering if we as a species are going forwards or backwards, or maybe in consistent circles.

The attempts of government are to try really, really hard to force our species into some sort of straight line of great intellect and common sense, to save us from killing ourselves off or from making too many idiotic choices that could turn all of humanity upside down and drive us all back into caves. Standards have been the main chosen route to gauge the success of anything. Set a standard and make tests that match. Then make matching curriculums and the trio of success is certain. God bless the trinity of standards-test-curriculums. Great money maker, for sure. Great way to shake up a country into a state of confusion. While the public scrambles to deal with the pain and shell switch tactics being forced upon them, making them look the other way, government leaders associated with related businesses, who see the opportunities here, quickly make their moves for their own benefits.

I teach for a living. My occupation is steeped in absurdity. That means we are already working in a consistent fog. It is hard for us to see who is sneaking in to do us more harm than good. It’s never boring, that’s for certain. But it is very frustrating many times because the power we think we really have as teachers is only half as much as we are told. That’s ok, I guess. Because the real leaders of how things turn out are those little people sitting in the desks. You can try any trick you want. They all work for awhile, until the kids figure out the game—which their minds are always looking for–and then sabotage reigns.  Bandaid after bandaid, meaning standards after standards, cover a wound too deep to ever heal. I know this because I’ve watched the history of this nonsense. The government cannot apply the real medicine because of human unpredictability. Most of all the government cannot apply the medicine needed because it would mean losing their power, their hold over the districts monies, their demand to force education to be 99% College and University directed with no other equally viable alternatives. Absurdity Prime. Kind of like a game character isn’t it ?   End

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Education’s Changing/Unchanging Cycle By David R. Otey

It is crazy the way the same road of education is taken over and over again. To me, it looks like only one road is traveled on.  At a certain point someone goes back to where we used to be and repaints that part of the road a different color, adding some new bushes and benches, new clocks and happy music from a speaker. Then they shout ahead and say to the leaders, “Hey, turn them around. We’ve got this section ready for them again.”  No matter how you dress up state standards, change the lingo to create the “new and improved” paradigms, restructure and repackage the curriculums to sell the same content for higher prices, tack on a “new and improved” state testing system worth billions to the geniuses behind that, present some very serious looking smart people in front of a camera for the ‘public display’ of intelligence at work, it’s STILL the same routine, the same interference of non-educators making the rules for “real” teachers. The content is the same, too.

What I understand from the articles and videos I’ve studied so far about the origin, the con-artist push for connecting to states with financial aid packages to accept the program without public involvement, and the methods of practice involved with the Common Core Standards and the multi-million dollar business creating matching curriculums and matching state tests, there are two main factors that stand out.

One main factor is the utopian idea of a national set of educational standards. This forces every participating state to accept new curriculums, making them replace very good already being used great curriculum  Every kid studying exactly the same thing at the same time so they all come out of the cookie cutter assembly line with exactly the same smartness and abilities for academic wonder kids. Imagine the kid assembly line idea Pink Floyd used in their classic film, The Wall (1982)-for their  song, Another Brick in the Wall.  Now is the time, I guess, for the country to try and do with schools what has been successful for fast food franchises. Uniformity for the sake of conformity, for the sake of having a stronger hold to ensure the survival of a dying system of education that has not met the needs of society for the past 50 years at least.

Is there really that much difference between the states for teaching Reading, Writing , language and Math ?  I was educated in New York, Florida, Georgia and Maryland when I was growing up between 1960 and 1972 when I graduated. I remember all the numbers looking the same everywhere I went. The letters for the words looked the same, too. Even their sounds were the same, give or take a slight difference in dialect for pronunciation. I was taught the same lessons for periods and commas and exclamation points–all of that stuff. It was all exactly the same in every blessed school I attended.

How about this ”new math” idea coming around with Common Core, driving the parents and teachers–I’m one of each–crazy. Guess what. It is NOT new math. It is another style, another method, another way of looking at how to process numbers. It’s been around a long time, taught in higher level course work. I feel like it was purposely chosen to alienate the parents from being able to have any control over the education process and direction. The programs disable the effectiveness of parents in relating to their children for school work.  My school recently sent a letter to the parents stating we are doing all we can to also master the new forced changes and will try to help them as much as possible, for the parents to please remain patient and to call with any questions and the teachers will collaborate with the parents.

I work a full time job in special education in a grade school, and I shake my head at this ridiculousness. I also foresee a great increase in the population of the kids I teach. Just watch the “resource rooms” blossom in population within the next 5 years. The only plan to prevent that might lie in the fact that our state has been requiring that by the year 2015, if I’m not mistaken, every special ed. kid is to spend 80% of his/her day in a regular class room. Combined with that has been the push to make every class room contain 2 teachers teaching along side each other, sharing the responsibilities of both groups of kids in the same room. You already know how that works, don’t you. The same as it always has worked. The main lecture of the lesson is given to all at the same time. This time with 2 teachers instead of one. Then the class is split into 2 or more groups according to “their abilities” (academic level). Forget “confidentiality”,  which is a joke anyway, as far as communities go, because everyone knows who can and who cannot “get it” in the academics kid world. So, this new set up can hide the weakness this program will create, is already creating.

An instructor of mine at the University I attended said this, I paraphrase. ” Every 20 years the system changes. First they had all of the special ed. kids in the same room. When the parents screamed about the hardships their kids were going through the system split them up into different rooms according to their abilities. Now, you watch..”, he said in 1995 as I sat listening in class. “You watch what will happen. They will put them all back into the one room again.” As he spoke, he placed one after another of those plastic transparency sheets on the overhead projector so fast no one could write the information down. His point was to simply show us the research already accumulated about this practice by that time. He had at least 30 of those sheets. I never forgot what he said. The shift didn’t start as soon as he said it would. it actually started five years later. But I saw him in a grocery store one day, knowing he retired, and I told him, “You were right. It’s happening now.” He smiled and nodded.

Another factor is this push for government control of the nation’s education system. It is another chapter following the fiasco of No Child Left Behind. This plan looks more innocent but the same “program” is  within the Core like jelly in a donut. State rights are being conned out of the public sector without any avenue for the public to fight for the protection of their statehood. State governments sell out their people for big piles of money to supposedly help the state in other ways. Governmental destitution and desperation override creativity and communication, as this wave of control freaks plug in their sales pitches to grab a whole side of the Monopoly Game neighborhood for long enough to drain more of the taxpayers money and local school districts money through forced purchase of those curriculum texts and new state tests.

The love, care and skill of real teachers and their administrators for their students, their schools and their communities will make them learn and guide others through this swamp. They know how to work through bad days and bad plans without giving up. They know how to handle sudden changes. Support your teachers. Ask what you can do to help all around. Be patient and also think about visiting your capitol leaders to encourage them to maintain state rights for their education.

The end.

Balance for Peace By David Reid Otey– September 2014

I recently wrote a piece titled The Oil Man; A down to earth perspective. I have taken it off after I read that traders/ buyers and sellers are the people who REALLY determine the prices of gas and other needs. Although the oil companies are definitely in that batch of people. BUT the question still remains: HOW does a trader/seller determine the price rise and fall?  I guess that enough subjective reasons set in place can become an objective standard ?  I know they give all the reasons of war, weather tragedy, etc. But WHY ?  It seems to show a belief that when times are troubled people need to be gouged and taken deeper down into despair. Really ?  Or is it that profit gain must never go below 500% ?

No matter what the reason, a fact–in my objective experiences list– remains that history shows business rules all nations and empires. Government is business. Government creates boundaries for various reasons. Government taxes citizens. Government makes laws to protect both objectively and subjectively. Leaders create changes for those they rule over. The changes come from the way the leaders handle their responsibilities to the public versus their personal desires.  Sometimes a huge change is made at one swoop, and sometimes a major change is the ”seemingly sudden” result of tiny connected changes not foreseen by enough people to redirect it.The public, the citizens, all have an affecting power base, too, but not enough to stop a major shift whether that shift be an act of God or a direction of mass mindset on both sides of the power arena.

One thing for certain. The shifts happen. But if the balance of safety and happiness become extremely uneven for those who have less and less, revolts rise up. The common people who work their bodies and minds to the max, to make life better for them and their families against all sorts of odds. These people can handle only so much frustration from being shoved back down through the many tricks and excuses the leaders present. Exceed that frustration point and you have those people asking the next smart question, “Now what can I do to change the leaders minds, since they have taken down all the ladders for me to climb?” It’s happened many times before. It will happen again. Somewhere.

Circumstances create situations which become events. Events change the lay of the land. Some fall and some stay standing. Leaders are not the only ones who can create circumstances. Leaders need their foundation of the common people supporters. That foundation is the greater yet often silent power that holds up the walls and ceiling of the leaders’ security and comfort. The foundation of common people cannot be forced to maintain the loyalty and devotion leaders need to accomplish their wishes. Notice the  recent story of Arthur T. Demoulas, who was reinstated as the Market Basket leader  due to the power of the common people,: the employees and the customers. Those common people were pushed and they shoved back. Emotions were affected deeply. The common people did win. It’s an incredible story to show the truth of how power must be balanced between leaders and the people they serve. Neither side can control nor operate and manage the entire system of needs and services by themselves.

Politicians are business men and business women. Serving the needs of goods and services in their areas is their jobs. Philosophies and ideologies are great, if they are tied to the needs. But bandwagon mindset at the expense of  common people’s livelihood and well being is an act of imbalance. It doesn’t work to try building a utopian dreamland of everyone being forced to think alike. But those groups are always out there pushing against each other. Most of the time they’ve been on the streets of their communities, spending their free time expressing their views both peacefully and violently. Sometimes national protests have taken place, still with the common public planning and enabling and attending to be involved. But now there seems to me to be this type of mass group thinking among the leaders. They are spending their time protesting each other, blocking each other, and doing this all in the capitol regions and buildings.

Whatever happens in any house depends upon the condition of the leaders of that home. In my occupation as teacher, I see kids from all kinds of homes. They show the results of the leadership in their homes. It doesn’t take much to know who has the caring and loving parents  and who comes from careless, self-centered parents. On a grand scale our national leaders have become much more careless and self-centered.  DCFS is called for the homes in communities to help retrain and straighten out messed up families. Who do you call to straighten out a messed up government ? Only the public. Only the foundational power core. Lots of changes have taken place since I’ve been born. Now, at age sixty, I see the already sown seeds of the coming changes. Historically inevitable. It’s just sort of weird though, to me, because these changes are not so obvious until they break out in power. Negative power is how they usually break out, too.  It doesn’t have to be that way, or, maybe it does. The rules of relationships apply no matter how small or large or how many people are involved, even if they are total strangers.

How I adapt myself to this is: I pay attention to my home and my family and my job and my community. They are the people who will support me for what I need and when I need it, and I for them. One for a bunch and a bunch for one. 🙂 That balance begins to set up the healing process for what will eventually take place in many places.      The End

Driven By Research-? By David Reid Otey

A recent article about people angered over Common Core Standards included a statement from CCS supporters that the CCS system is “Driven By Research”.  I teach special education in a grade school as my day job. It’s been a joy for eighteen years and still is, more so today than when I started. Not because of any specific standards but because of why I do this job: the love of learning and of helping children grasp, understand, practice and master skills they will use later to help preserve the existence and progress and success of the communities they live in.

In my work I stay aware of the pros and cons of every new system that comes a long as a result of someone figuring out a way to get government grant money for ego-building projects disguised as national improvement utopian plans. CCS is the newest happy meal in the mix. I have listened to  peers praise and damn the CCS. The phrase ”research driven” has been used so much that it makes me laugh now. One lesson I finally understood after decades of learning and sorting through pros and cons of any issue is this: Research is as subjective as anything else in life. All research is driven by whichever club, committee, family, organization, street corner gang, political party or neighborhood watch group has an interest in researching anything. Here is the clincher. WHY they are researching in the first place: to affect an improvement that benefits and advances the position of control, fame or finances of their group.  Experts exist on both sides of every issue. It becomes a match not of wits so much as of who advertises the most, yells the loudest and convinces the best with expertise in all styles of social-political propaganda (which, in itself, is good or bad–depending upon which side of the propaganda you stand.)

A  teaching friend told me recently she was frustrated by the stresses CCS is placing on our students. She said it very unfair to shove this system into a place where it doesn’t belong. I smiled as I said, ” I agree. But we know something those great researchers overlooked or never worked with kids in the first place to understand. Kids Rule. They always have and they always will. They rule by giving the results that prove what motivates them and what they consider to be important techniques to keep them interested. It’s a business. The kids are customers, like it or not. They can shut something down pretty fast. If they understood their powers better, they would be shutting a lot of things down regarding curriculum choices in their schools.”   I have seen curriculums change, watching old text books of past “research driven high quality perfection” being thrown in the dumpster.

In the meantime, as the cloud of controversy slowly moves its mass across the crowds of protesters and praisers, the clock keeps ticking. I have never yet seen the three hands on my class room clock stop because of issues, only because of dead batteries. The kids show up and we get started with “ok, today we look at this and how….”.  Numerous reading and math programs have sailed through the halls of every school, each one being labeled as the ”King James” version for all to use for the conformity systematic learning, as if all minds were wired the same, as if all families agreed on the same standards for raising children, as if all families shared the same importance of education in their homes.

Bottom line is this. We teachers will do what we have to do, are told to do. But when we see THAT LOOK, that warning sign in the faces of our students, equally represented by the shifting grades they receive from assignments, WE will shift, too, as we teach them, as we feel what they are telling us with their moans, with their aggressive or nervous energies. We are the real experts. We know how to intervene with subtle weavings of ”common sense standards” between the scripted sentences of the teacher manual. We know how to reach the minds we have interacted with consistently in close quarters for a long, long time. Think of it this way: combine the film where the children’s eyes would glow as they stared at anyone to hypnotize them into a self-destructive act WITH the opening speech of The Outer Limits-“we control your tv set” (mind), and you have the reality that makes ALL “good” teachers instantly engage with ”sanity preservation standards” to run a smooth, happy, successfully learning class. And THAT, by the way, comes from ”driven research”. 🙂    Have a great day.  The End.