Monday, July 28, 2008

I'm Fessin' Up to Infidelity....

No, no, no……it’s not what you think. Heaven forbid!

In fact Dear Hubby and I are celebrating 24 years of marriage this very day. It was an overcast, muggy day in 1984 when my beau met me at the altar of the First Baptist Church of College Park and agreed to be Mr. Elementaryhistoryteacher forever more.

What a very smart man he was and still is. I’m so glad he decided he couldn’t live without me because I was getting awfully tired of running after him. :)

We had met when he began working for my father right after graduation. He asked me out, but I couldn't go since I wasn't 16 yet. My dad had rules....and he stuck to them. Once I turned 16 I reminded my beau that I had reached the magic age, and he advised he still wanted to take me out, but I would have to he had joined the U.S. Navy and basic training was coming between us. For the next six years the Navy kept us apart except for an occaisional 30 day leave here and there. He traveled the world and I graduated high school, attended college, and became a paralegal.

After 24 years I can honestly say it was worth the wait and worth it to allow the U.S. Navy to borrow my chosen man for a bit.

Our ceremony was scheduled for 4 p.m, and as my dad and I took our place in the foyer of the church we could hear the peal of the church bells as they rang the hour and a special cadence signaling a bride was about to walk the aisle.

The pastor, Dr. Hugh McDonald, provided a very lengthy and very solid Christian wedding ceremony with vows right out of the King James Bible including not one, not two, but three heartfelt prayers said over us in his native Scottish brogue. Just in case you are wondering THIS bride proudly announced to the world she WOULD OBEY, and I’ve never regretted it.

So, I’m sure you’re wondering about my reference to infidelity. It’s rather simple. Regular readers around here know that posting has been a bit irregular over the summer, and I’ve been downright quiet of late.

I have to admit to you I’ve been a bit busy with another blog. No, not Georgia on My Mind. I fessed up to that a long time ago. No, not my Bible history site……, no not American Presidents…..Sadly I’ve been so busy I haven’t posted there in weeks :(

The other blog I’m referring to is a project for the Historical Committee at my church, and I’d like to share it with you. My church has been around since 1946 and has quite a history of growth and mission work. Over the years a few very dedicated ladies have painstakenly collected and saved all sorts of items for our historical archives including meeting minutes, pictures, church bulletins, deeds, written histories and other memorabilia. My thought, which I shared with the other members of the historical committee, was why should our treasure trove of items be sitting alone in a closet where the oldest pictures had begun to fade, and paper items were becoming more and more brittle?

Digitizing the collection would protect valuable data, plus it would also enable us to share the collection with our fellow church members and the world at large. Luckily the committee agreed with me, and I have been very busy this summer creating the new blog, First Baptist Church, Lithia Springs...a History.

Head on over and take a look around, but pardon me if I’m not there to welcome you.

I have an anniversary to celebrate!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday Mirth: Oh, If We Only Could...

A friend of mine forwarded the following to me via email. This has apparently been around the email block a few times and there is a story behind it…..Educators can certainly understand why this would be a “dream message” to place on the school answering machine, but it didn’t really happen. You can read the whole story over at

Here is the message that the Pacific Palisades High School California staff voted unanimously to record on their school telephone answering machine.

This is the actual answering machine message for the school. This came about because they implemented a policy requiring students and parents to be responsible for their children's absences and missing homework.

The school and teachers are being sued by parents who want their children's failing grades changed to passing grades - even though those children were absent 15-30 times during the semester and did not complete enough school work to pass their classes.

The outgoing message:

Hello! You have reached the automated answering service of your school. In order to assist you in connecting to the right staff member, please listen to all the options before making a selection:

To lie about why your child is absent - Press 1

To make excuses for why your child did not do his work -Press 2

To complain about what we do - Press 3

To swear at staff members - Press 4

To ask why you didn't get information that was already enclosed in your newsletter and several flyers mailed to you - Press 5

If you want us to raise your child - Press 6

If you want to reach out and touch, slap or hit someone - Press 7

To request another teacher, for the third time this year - Press 8

To complain about bus transportation - Press 9

To complain about school lunches - Press 0

If you realize this is the real world and your child must be accountable and responsible for his/her own behavior, class work, homework and that it's not the teachers' fault for your child's lack of effort: Hang up and have a nice day!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

13 Things: King George's War

1.King George’s War, as it was known in the colonies, was fought from 1744 to 1748. Its European counterpart was known as the War of Austrian Succession. and it actually has a starting date of 1740. It was touched off with the death of Charles VI, the Holy Roman Emperor where a succession crisis resulted in France, Prussia, and Spain taking up arms against the British. While the European details of this nice little war are very interesting I usually stick to the events in the colonies for my fourth graders.

2.You might have heard of the French and Indian War. It is often taught in conjunction with events leading up to the American Revolution, however, there were actually four such French and Indian Wars dating back to 1689, and King George’s War is the third one.

3. Events in North America actually kicked of in 1739 with a series of skirmishes known as the War of Jenkin’s Ear which was between the Spanish and the British. The events were mainly confined to the Caribbean Sea and in the Georgia colony. When France became an ally of Spain in 1744 the matter escalated into King George’s War.

4. Warfare developed in the American colonies in 1744 when the French attacked a British position at Canso, Nova Scotia. Canso was an important New England fishery. During the 1720s and 1730s it employed over 3,000 fishermen. Since it was only sixty miles by sea from Louisbourg, a major French stronghold, the French felt threatened by the British presence and attacked Canso.

5. With only eighty-seven soldiers defending rudimentary fortifications, the British surrendered after a short bombardment and minimal resistance. The French destroyed both the fortifications and the settlement and took the garrison, their families, and a few fishermen back to Louisbourg as prisoners.

6. The French also attempted to recapture Port Royal (Annapolis Royal), but failed.
7. One major accomplishment of the British during the war was to seize Fort Louisbourg in 1745. It was a French fortress located on Cape Breton Island, located at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. The image with this post is the shoreline at Cape Breton.

8. In order to take the fort a force of more than 4,000 men was raised under William Pepperrell, a wealthy merchant from Maine. Assigned the daunting task of taking Louisbourg, they would shortly assault what was regarded as the most secure position in North America.

9. Sir Peter Warren and his naval contingent provided valuable assistance by preventing reinforcements from reaching the French fort. A two-month siege ended in June when British soldiers staged a heroic (and almost comic) raid on the fortress, forcing its capitulation. George II later rewarded Pepperrell with a baronetcy, the first American colonist so honored.

10. Fort Louisbourg was a very important location for the French to hold and prime real estate for the British to capture. Why? The St. Lawrence River gave the French an important route to move goods and people inland. From Fort Louisbourg French settlers could set out for Quebec and Montreal….two towns that depended on access to the Atlantic Ocean.

11. Once Fort Louisbourg was captured by the British the fur trade that the French and their Indian alllies depended upon was disrupted. The movement of manufactured European goods into the hands of French merchants was also disrupted. Now they had nothing to trade with Native American to maintain their allies. Native Americans in the Ohio River Valley quickly became the trading partners of British merchants who gladly stepped in to fill the void.

12. The treaty I highlighted yesterday (printed by none other than Benjamin Franklin) in my wordless image seen here resulted in the Iroquois and an intercolonial force forming in northern New York for an attack against Canada. Though the forces camped at Albany for the entire winter, the regulars never arrived resulting in a thwarted attack against Canada.

13. Peace was achieved with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. In return for receiving Madras in India, the British returned Louisbourg to the French, thus nullifying the greatest victory American forces had ever won. Anger in the colonies was so great that London responded by reimbursing the colonial governments for funds spent earlier on the Pepperrell campaign.

It would be another 15 years before the disputes between the French and the British were finally settled. Fighting resumed in 1754 between the two adversaries in North America with the outbreak of the French and Indian War (yes, the one most of us know about). The war speread to Europe two years later and is remembered as the Seven Years War.

You can find other bloggers participating in Thursday Thirteen here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Wordless: Ben Franklin's Treaty

If you are a regular around here you know this is about as wordless as I can possibly get. :)

This treaty was printed by Ben Franklin in 1746. It is between the provinces of New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania and the Indians of the Six Nations.

The Six Nations were also referred to as the Iroqois Confederation and included the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, the Cayuga, the Seneca, and the Tuscarora tribes. This treaty arose during a time period referred to as King George’s War. In Europe, this same time period (1740-1748) is known as the War of Austrian Succession. Prior to 1763 there were four such wars involving the British, the French, and Indians…..the one mentioned in the treaty pictured here is the third war. The treaty explains that members of the Six Nations will fight on the side of the British against the French in the colonies.

The image seen here was obtained here….a great source for Political Science images through American History.

Find other bloggers participating in Wordless Wednesday here.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mirth For Monday

I may be his momma, but I’m not eactly exaggerating when I say my son has a little talent. His talents include a fantastic singing voice, self-taught guitar skills, and an ability to immerse himself in various musical roles he undertook in high school.

It was no surprise when Dear Son called me over the weekend and directed me to the YouTube video I’m featuring below asking, “Hey Mama, ya wanna see me in a starring role?”

Well, of course I did, and I hurried right over to the link he provided. So, I present here my son in the starring role of Jeff Goes to College, a short promotional video for this year’s orientation at Truett McConnell College. Yes, that place....the place that gladly takes thousands of dollars each year from us. :)

Yep, that’s my boy……the one in the bear suit. When he’s not a YouTube star my son is busy pursuing a history degree….at least that’s his story for this week.

Enjoy your Monday!

Monday, July 07, 2008

An Empty Retention Policy

An article from the Atlanta Journal last week states, Georgia's high-stakes testing program isn't so high-stakes after all. A state law aimed at stopping so-called "social promotion" says students in grades 3, 5 and 8 should repeat the year when they fail certain standardized tests.

But school districts are promoting the vast majority of those students anyway, even if they fail a second-chance retest, or blow it off altogether, an analysis of 2006 and 2007 state data by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reveals.

Gee, media folks….what took you so long? It’s been that way from my vantage point for the last six years, at least. I guess it just took 46,000 8th graders failing the math portion statewide this year for others to begin to see a pattern.

Of course, here in the Peach state it isn’t just one portion of the test that MIGHT keep a student in the 3rd, 5th, or 8th grade from advancing. The student has to fail the math and the language arts portions to be considered a candidate for retention in the 5th and 8th grades while reading MIGHT hold you back in the 3rd.

I use the word MIGHT because it is rare to have a meeting with parents and administrators regarding a student who failed the test and the student actually be retained. The procedures state that all stakeholders….administrator, teachers, and parents must be in agreement regarding the outcome of an evaluation meeting following failing test scores. Sometimes the parent objects so strongly the administrator relents. Other times….and this is what I normally see…..the administrator comes to the team of teachers prior to the parent meeting and advises that unless the student has excessive absences he or she will be passed along no matter what. In other words we are to play the game, talk the child up, and pass him or her along. While the procedures indicate that school officials take into account all data regarding whether the child is retained or not the data is often ignored or glossed over with platitudes such as, “Well, little Jimmy didn’t have a good a year because of this, that or the other, but with a little focus he’s going to have a great year in the next grade.”

This makes me physically ill.

I’m tired of retention language worded in such a way that everyone has an out….”might”, “could be”, “can be”. What about “will be”?

Unfortunately classroom teachers aren’t given much of a choice in the matter. I’m gong to endure the ire of an administrator by speaking my mind when I have been told privately we won’t be retaining a certain group of students no matter what? I’m going to run the risk of suddenly not having a contract or suddenly finding myself in a different school due to a county mandated transfer? When teachers do question this practice administrators generally state they are following directives from the county. Hmmmm….and I wonder who the county receives their directives from?

Over the last few years I’ve watched children progress to the next grade who rarely turned in assignments, children who rarely opened a book, children with a majority of Fs on their report card, children whose parents have been literally begged to come in and work with us on creating a plan for their student’s success (always a no show), or children who only succeeded during the school day by disrupting every lesson in some form or fashion.

These are the same children who finished each 60 question test within 15 minutes of the start time though they had 45 to 60 minutes to carefully think about their answers, and they refused to check their work when asked. The two week testing window was merely an elongated nap period where during the more lucid moments the child could create pretty designs by coloring in patterns with the answer sheet bubbles.

Yes, he should have scored at least a 300 on this test, unfortunately he only scored a 98. He did bubble in his name correctly, however. Enjoy the next grade level!

I understand the research that shows retention very rarely ever cures the problem, and personally within the small group of students I’ve ever been allowed to retain only one made any real turn-around or progress during the year they repeated with me.

However, are we really solving our problems by allowing students to progress to the next grade when they are clearly not ready?

Most of the children I have seen in this predicament didnt' suddenly have a bad year in 3rd, 5th, or 8th grade. They have had a myriad of problems from day one....from first grade or even before.

[In the article, State Superintendent Kathy Cox defends] schools' use of the appeal process, which allows promotion if the principal, parent and teacher agree. When she worked on the bill as a state representative, she said, she believed it would be used mainly to identify and help struggling students — not to retain large numbers of them. She said retention "should be a last resort."

Legislators and government types are confused, however, and who can blame them? Their intent with the retention portion of the law was to stop the process of advancing children and pushing them along before they were ready for the next grade.

The Atlanta Journal was also able to uncover that since the law went into effect, the state education department has not looked yearly at how many students were retained because of the tests.

Excuse me? I’m required to keep all sorts of classroom data from textbook information, my own test scores over a period of time, personal data on every student including all of their test scores since day one of their school career so I can analyze it myself to produce a program of action to help the student achieve, analyze noticeable trends and problem areas in my teaching and yet the Georgia Department of Education isn’t tracking how many students are retained each year who don’t pass muster on “the test”?

In their own examination The Atlanta Journal was able to uncover that during the years 2006 and 2007 10 to 20 percent of students failed on their first try with “the test.” Of that 10 to 20 percent only 2.5 percent of eighth-grade testers, 1.7 percent of fifth-grade testers, and 2.9 percent third-grade testers were ultimately retained.

It has been widely reported that over 46,000 eighth graders failed the math portion of the CRCT this past spring. This is a dismal, dismal statistic that clearly indicates problems with the standards, problems with “the test”, problems with the teaching, and problems with the students.

However, even in 2007 the total number of eighth graders who failed the math porton was 9,500…..While better than 46,000 it still is not anything to write home about. Unfortunately The Atlanta Journal discovered that of those 9,500 students a whopping 92 percent were able to progress on to high school even though they did not pass “the test.”

Is it any wonder our high schools have to add so many remedial math courses? After high school the cycle continues with colleges having to add more and more remedial math classes.

When are we going to admit that our “one-size-fits-all” test isn’t working as a true measure of student success….or even more importantly when are we going to admit that the damned test, as I lovingly refer to it, isn’t working as a true measure of student failure either?

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Fourth!

From my front porch….

To my back porch….

I hope you have a very happy Fourth of July.

You can find links to some of my postings regarding the Fourth of July here.

Over at Georgia on My Mind you can enjoy the 39th Georgia Blog Carnival.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Lazy Days of Summer?

Well, it’s Wednesday and I have done absolutely nothing here since Friday.


I’ve had way too many projects placed in my “in” box lately. I need the word “no” stamped on my forehead. I’m overwhelmed and under pressure.

Now the Fourth of July is looming and it doesn’t look like anything worth saying will be emitted from my keyboard until the weekend.

While I am slogging away through a "to do" list that is longer than Santa's naughty list, you can keep busy with the latest edition of the Carnival of Education found at An (aspiring) Educator's Blog.