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Svea's Sixth Game

Brigitta's Fifth Game

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Brigitta's Sixth Game

GFS Card Party

How did we ever get to this point?

Brigitta's Seventh Game

GFS Easter

Svea's Eighth Game

Brigitta's Eighth Game

Easter Eggs

Happy Easter

Merit Pay for Physicians

Akron Zoo

Butterflies Released

We support Ron Paul for President 2012.  

I think the founding fathers would be very disappointed in what has become of the American government and its leaders; we now have a corrupt empire that largely ignores its own constitution and tramples on individuals' liberties.  The founding fathers would like Ron Paul, however.  Congressman Paul consistently votes no on issues that are unconstitutional. If elected Ron Paul will end our wars, close our hundreds of military bases across the globe and end our unsustainable, financially irresponsible empire.  Ron Paul has more support from US troops than all other presidential candidates combined!  Dr. Paul is critical of government corruption and believes in protecting whistleblowers.  As a congressman, Paul does not participate in the congressional pension, has never voted to raise congressional pay and as President he would draw a salary of just $39,336, which is the median salary of the American worker.  Paul believes the War on Drugs is not working, is a waste of money, and violates citizen's personal freedoms.  Congressman Paul has never voted for: raising taxes, an unbalanced budget, a federal restriction on gun ownership or an increase in the power of the executive branch.  Paul is the only presidential candidate proposing a viable balanced budget.  He voted against: the Patriot Act, the TARP bailouts, regulating the Internet and the Iraq war.  Search YouTube for " Ron Paul predicts " to see how Paul has predicted many of our current major problems and crises years or decades before they happened.  Please do not waste your vote on the status-quo; elect Ron Paul for US President in 2012.  - David & Joan Hall

 

Akron Zoo

4-29-2011 ~ Blog #390

(David)

 

We went to the zoo yesterday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butterflies Released

 

The girls hatched butterflies in them room and let them go on Monday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merit Pay for Physicians

4-25-2011 ~ Blog #389

(David)

 

   I am very concerned at how physicians are paid and allowed to retain their jobs.  Many physicians' patients have very high mortality rates and poor health, yet these doctors often earn very high salaries and have great job security.  Only doctors whose patients have good life expectancy and health deserve pay raises and job security.  Too many bad doctors hide behind the "all my patients have cancer" excuse.  Many hospitals have a wing full of lazy doctors who have obviously given up on their patients and just accept that many will die.  These low-performing  physicians need to be let go.  Every doctor has some patients who are sick; the good ones skip the "I'm an oncologist excuse" and manage to make their patients well.  Performance based pay and job retention works well in private business.  Why do physicians expect to be paid differently than everyone in the business world?

 

   Okay, that was stupid.  People with cancer are at a high risk of dying because they have cancer.  They see doctors who specialize in cancer so they may better their odds of living.  If a particular oncologist/doctor has a better mortality rate than the national average for a particular type of cancer, then that's an indicator that he or she is a good doctor, even if he or she only improves the survival rate from 10% to 15%.  Then again, the oncologist could just be lucky, or people who get a particular cancer in that city may also have other underlying conditions that improve their odds.  Maybe the oncologist has a better patient survival rate because he or she is conveniently "not taking on new patients" when some of the most severe/furthest along patients request his or her service.  It's hard to imagine an oncologist refusing patients, but then again if it would to improve job security or pay...  Some oncologists have poor patient survival rates because the culture/demographic of the people they serve have a high tendency to ignore warning signs; they only seek help when it is too late.  That doesn't make the oncologist less effective, they just have riskier patients.  Medicine is more complex than business.  A business world merit based pay system based on sales quotas does not translate to the medical field. 

 

   It's a good thing politicians and voters don't decide things such as mandatory merit pay for doctors based largely on patient survival rates...   I'm actually a little concerned about publishing this blog because if the idea got out egotistical know-it-all politicians might possibly run with it.  They wouldn't understand that this idea is a parody meant to make a point.

 

   This blog post is about Ohio's new collective bargaining law, senate bill 5.  Ohio has just become the first state to impose a mandatory statewide merit pay system for public school teachers.  While reading about the new law, I just can't grasp how anyone honestly believes this is a good idea.  Viewing the article comments, however, I repeatedly read responses (by voters) who think that education is comparable to "the real world" of business.  As a former "high risk public school" teacher who has transitioned to a "high performing" Catholic/private school it is very clear to me why this is a bad idea. It's hard for me to understand how anyone couldn't get it.  My "Merit Pay for Physicians (based on health/survival rates of patients)" analogy sounds every bit as wrong and stupid as Merit Pay for Teachers (based on test scores of students).  When I taught first grade at Mark Twain Elementary in Colorado Springs, I was (comparatively) an oncologist.  Now that I teach technology at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Cuyahoga Falls I am (comparatively) an ophthalmologist.  Like medicine, education is very complex.  Both begin with countless variables and have numerous goals that cannot be summarized by simple statistics or tests.  We don't compare the patient mortality rates of oncologists to ophthalmologists because one doctor deals with patients who are dying and the other deals with patients with vision issues.  It wouldn't be a fair or valuable comparison. 

 

   In my last year of teaching first grade in Colorado I had more students' family members murdered and/or put in jail than I've seen in all of my nine years at IHM (and I now have 400 students a year instead of 23).  Some students at IHM are affected by family issues, ADD, learning disabilities, etc., but the vast majority of our students come from good families and have relatively stable home lives and good parents.  Some of my students in Colorado also had stable home lives and good parents, but some lived in frightful conditions and many were way behind before they even entered Kindergarten.  When parents don't read to their children, talk about letters and words and speak in proper complete sentences around their children it has a major impact on their reading readiness.  Moving from a "high risk public school" to a "high performing" Catholic school did not instantly make me a significantly better teacher. The test scores of my students, however, would indicate that, as a team, the teachers whom I now work with are vastly superior to my old public school fellow teachers.  This just isn't the case.  I've often wondered about the following experiment:  Swap the staff of a high risk school with the staff of an affluent high performing school.  Politicians and voters would expect the "good staff" to whip the "bad school" into shape; test scores would sky rocket because these better teachers are more skilled, work harder and care more.  Obviously the "bad staff" would be completely ineffective at their new schools.  I predict both schools would show a small drop in test score performance and a few teachers in both schools would have a rough time adapting to the major shifts in parent involvement and student ability.  How could anyone not realize that the demographics of a school are the number one predictor of how that school will perform on standardized tests? 

 

   High risk schools typically have a high teacher turnover rate.  In the decade since I left Colorado I believe about 10-15% of the teaching staff I worked with remains at Mark Twain.  In the nine years I've been at IHM, most of the teaching staff has remained the same.  High risk schools are often "stepping stones" for new teachers; they are a place to start your teaching resume.  They typically offer much tougher working conditions and are emotionally, physically and financially draining.  New teachers usually move on to "nicer schools" as soon as they can.  Some teachers prefer to work at high risk schools and make a career out of it.  Teachers at these schools can matter quite a bit to students.  Young students want to come to school because they know it is safe and they know someone cares about them.  Home, often is a chaotic place where they live in fear or are simply ignored.  That sounds a bit dramatic, but it often is so true.  Many students in these schools are destined for tough lives, just like their parents.  The teachers in these schools are not necessarily less educated, dedicated, hard-working, professional or effective than teachers at more affluent schools.  Remember why oncologist have high mortality rates?  It's the same thing: high-risk patients are like high risk students.  We reward these teachers by telling them they are bad at their jobs, don't care about their students, deserve a pay cut, should be put on probation and should eventually be fired if their students' test scores don't improve.   What will happen in Ohio now that senate bill 5 has been passed?  If I were a teacher at a high risk school I'd put in a request to move to a more affluent school.  The good teachers at high risk school will leave in droves this year or they will be fired in droves next year.  Do we really want to make the toughest, least desirable teaching jobs less attractive by lowering pay and offering the worst job security?  Is this some kind of Monty Python sketch?

 

   Teachers often work together, share ideas, lessons and tasks; ideally it's a cooperative job.  I regularly meet with other teachers so that I may incorporate their subjects/lessons/standards/needs into my technology classes.  Sometimes students in my classes research or write for their other classes.  At these times they often are not expanding their technology skills.  Although I am the technology teacher for my school, I am genuinely interested in the education and well being of my students as a whole.  Their overall success is more important to me than how well they learn to utilize technology.  If some teachers in my school were to get raises, and others were to be fired based on how their students performed on tests per subject, would I be so willing to cooperate with my fellow teachers?  Would it really benefit our students if I became "greedy" with my class time and was only willing to focus on my subject?  It's a tough economy right now and teachers have it especially bad; I have a wife and three daughters to shelter and feed.  I've taught seminars on various aspects of my job.  If I were to be compared to other technology teachers, would I really want to give away my great ideas?  Would experienced mentor teachers want to help the new, single, childless teachers who are entering the profession? 

 

   Why is standardized testing so essential?  How do you test accurately and how do you prevent cheating?  Every experienced teacher knows that there are good and bad classes.  When it comes to academic performance, behavior, attitude, cohesion, etc., every class has its own personality.  When a seventh grade English teacher views overall class standardized test scores for self-evaluation purposes, he or she knows there is little value in comparing this year's class a to last year's class.  One class might have left the sixth grade at the 80th percentile, the other at the 70th.  A better evaluation is to compare this year's overall class percentile to their overall class percentile last year.  If they've improved as a group, the teacher's methods probably were on track.  If scores dropped, the teacher could probably improve.  That sounds simple enough.  But what if the sixth grade teacher at that school is the best English teacher in the universe?  Even if that seventh grade teacher is really good, the class will probably drop its percentile ranking a bit because they are no longer taught by the best English teacher in the universe.  Test score merit pay based on class improvement would probably punish good teacher who follow great teachers.  What if the sixth grade teacher taught to the test?  What if the sixth grade teacher flat out cheated and gave the students the answers?  We could be firing good, honest teachers who follow teachers who cheat.  I'd like to think at all teachers are above cheating, but when you tie pay raises and job termination to test scores, people will cheat.  Ethics problems arise in all professions when high stakes are involved.  In Atlanta teachers at 58 schools were under investigation last year for cheating on high-stakes tests.  Cheating on high-stakes test is already a big problem nationwide.  It sickens me that many teachers will feel so pressured to protect their jobs that they will resort to cheating.  Even if they don't cheat, are worried teachers better teachers?  Are we losing sight of what is important in education?  Are standardized tests even a true measure of learning?  When testing becomes more important that education, something is terribly wrong.

 

   There are hundreds of qualities that can be used to identify good teaching and good teachers.  All teachers have strengths and weaknesses.  If I were to list my 10 worst qualities as I teacher, I could make myself look pretty bad.  If I were to list my 10 best qualities as I teacher, I could make myself look pretty awesome; some things I do better than any teacher I know.  Then there are a few hundred qualities where I fall somewhere between bad and awesome.  Teaching is a very complex job, very much like parenting.  Think about the good parents you know; they probably have some traits in common, but each one probably possess some good qualities that few parents also share.  All parents, even good ones, have some pretty big weaknesses that detract from their parenting ability.  Could you identify good parents by testing their children?  In general, you could lump parent into groups of "probably pretty good parents" and "probably pretty bad parents", etc.  We all know some great parents who have difficult children and even some children who thrive in spite of their parents.  The groups would have many exceptions.  Such a test would not be fair and accurate down to the individual parents.  Now imagine you are given someone else's children for a few hours a day for a few months...   Teachers have much less influence over children than parents since parents are a child's primary teacher for life.  

 

  Non-educators and especially politicians, seem to oversimplify educators jobs.  In their minds, they narrow teaching down to a few key tasks and skills and discount everything else.  Everyone thinks they are an expert when it comes to education.  They make assumptions based on a perspective recalled from when they were students.  They make assumptions from what their children tell them about school.  They make assumptions from what they observe at open house and parent teacher conferences.  They make assumptions based on their own experience in dealing with children as a parent, or aunt.  Its pretty arrogant, however, to assume that you understand a job, that you have not worked in, better than any of the millions who have been educated and trained in that field and have years of actual work experience.  Is it really possible that the only people who do not understand what teaching is all about are teachers? 

 

   Merit pay in Ohio will not be based exclusively on student performance.  I think that it is safe to assume that teacher evaluations, made by principals, will also be considered.  Most principals have particular pet qualities that they latch onto as being most important and they tend to overlook many other important qualities.  Its usually luck of the draw if a teacher works for a principal who appreciates their best qualities, or has it in for their weak areas.  It is not uncommon for principals to have their own agendas and they have the power to give teachers a very hard time or terminate them if they are not on board.  Even if a principal makes demands that are not evidence based or supported by district policies they still have much power.  Good principals look for evidence of good teaching in a broader sense.  They know that there and many effective ways to teach beyond the latest trend.  Merit pay based on principal evaluations makes more sense than basing it on student test scores; but there are still major flaws. 

 

   Somehow, lawmakers and the media have convinced the general public that public education is failing and the fault lies upon educators: Johnny can't read; he must have a bad teacher.  Never mind that Johnny has never met his father.  Never mind that his mother belongs to a gang and does not supervise him.  Never mind that he is exposed to drugs, violence abuse and neglect daily.  Johnny doesn't deserve to be "left behind" the oncologist's son who lives across town.  No matter how hard Johnny's teacher works, the oncologist's son's teacher is probably working equally as hard.  The oncologist has probably been teaching her son bits and pieces every day of his life.  She probably checks his homework, takes him to soccer practice, makes sure that he's in bed at a reasonable time.  The oncologist and her husband clearly value education and probably have begun saving for his college.  He's probably in a class of students who, much like him, are ready to learn.  His teacher probably spends less time dealing with students with behavioral issues and learning disabilities.  Johnny and his classmates are coming to school (if they make it that day) tired, hungry, afraid, or distracted by their parents' shenanigans.  Why do we assume that there is something wrong with education just because Johnny is way behind the oncologist's son?  Passing a law that demands high risk students not be left behind doesn't change Johnny's home life and does not give Johnny's teacher magical equalization powers.  Johnny and his classmates are at a high risk of: dropping out of school, joining gangs, becoming addicts, becoming teenage parents and ending up in jail because children tend to follow in their parents footsteps.  Do lawmakers not understand this or have they just not figured out an equally stupid way to legislate bad parenting?

 

   There are bad educators out there; many need to be fired.  In some places their jobs are too safe.  Terminated bad teachers will be replaced by average and good teachers.  This is always a win for students.  Firing a few bad teachers will not, however, fix Johnny's home life.  His mother won't immediately marry a nice man and move out of their bad neighborhood.  She won't start checking his homework and cooking him a nice dinner. She won't start reading him a story every night before she tucks him in.  If Johnny has a bad teacher, who is replaced by a good teacher, Johnny will notice.  He will probably do a bit better in school and perhaps he will be a bit less likely to end up in a gang or in jail.  The oncologist's son will always have huge advantages over Johnny in everyway, however.  Johnny's school will still be labeled as failing and his new teacher will be labeled as a failure.  Even if we managed to fire all of the bad teachers in our country and replace them with good teachers, there would still be huge social problems as well as plenty of very poor parenting in America.  Scores of bad parents would still produce children who will be way behind before they even begin kindergarten.

 

   Whose pushing these test on lawmakers?  Private testing companies of course.  Standardized tests are a huge business.  Businesses are concerned with one thing: making money.  Executives at these companies are not concerned with educating students; they want to turn a profit.  We spend hundreds of millions on national and state standardized tests every year.  Each year testing absorbs a larger percentage of education dollars.  Students and teachers spend more time preparing for these tests and actually taking them.  Meanwhile, it seams that there is less money being spent on actual education.  Testing is one of the few areas in education that is experiencing a boom.  Thanks to lawmakers more and more tests become mandatory, the money is a sure thing for testing companies.  I wonder how Harcourt EM, CTB McGraw-Hill, Riverside and NCS Pearson managed to convince lawmakers to give them such a slam-dunk deal? 

 

   Decision making in education has shifted from educators to politicians and lawmakers.  Laws and rules are passed, educators advice is ignored and educators' jobs become burdened with red tape, paperwork and stricter guidelines.  Disruptive student's cannot be removed from the classroom no matter how difficult they make it for others to learn.  Lawmakers laws over-ride educator's common sense.  Ralph can scream, run around and throw things about the classroom all day long and his teacher can't even threaten Ralph's parents that he will be suspended if his behavior continues.  Meanwhile, Sally is automatically suspended for bringing a plastic butter knife to school in her lunch box because she wanted to assemble her peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the cafeteria.  Lawmakers have been passing laws to "fix" public education for decades.  The more they get involved, the more they claim things are wrong and the more they blame teachers.  If their ideas and laws are so great, why aren't they working?  If public education is being micromanaged by lawmakers, why aren't lawmakers being held accountable for the "failure" of public education?

 

Happy Easter

(In the swamp!)

 

After writing my "education manifesto" above, I think that all I really want to say about Easter is that it was really, really wet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easter Eggs

4-23-2011 ~ Blog #388

(David)

 

Joan and the girls colored Easter Eggs today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GFS Easter

 

 

 

This photo below is for a friend who didn't bring her camera.

 

 

Svea's Eighth Game

Svea's team lost their last match of the regular season against St. Rita's.  Svea served well and managed to play a ball off of the net.  Tournaments begin Wednesday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brigitta's Eighth Game

 

Brigitta's team lost their last match of the regular season but they are still tied for first place in their division.  They played at exactly the same time as Svea's team, so I didn't get any photos.  Tournaments begin Wednesday.

 

 

Brigitta's Seventh Game

4-19-2011 ~ Blog #387

(David)

 

   Wow!  What a game.  IHM's 3rd grade Coach Day's team went up against the Saint Barnabas team who they were tied with for first place in their division.  IHM won the first match, Saint Barnabas won the second and IHM won the tie breaker.  This makes our girls number one in their division.  They have one regular season game left.  Tomorrow they play Saint Rita's.  Brigitta was totally on tonight.  She served well and aggressively went after the ball.  Britta and her teammates seemed to enjoy tonight's very intense game. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Svea's Seventh Game

4-17-2011 ~ Blog #386

(David)

IHM managed to beat St. Matthew in the first match on Saturday.  St. Matthew came back strong and beat our girls in the next two matches, however. 

 

 

 

 

 

Brigitta's Sixth Game

Brigitta's served the winning point in the final of three matches against St. Josephs.  I was with Svea who was playing her match at the same time, so I didn't get any photos.

 

GFS Card Party

On Friday night we attended the annual Card Party fundraiser at the German Family Society.  Annika and Svea won three Warsteiner beers (and glasses), two bottles of wine and a Stiegle mini-keg.  The best part might have been the old fashion raised doughnuts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How did we ever get to this point?

(Or: thank you Google Calendar for keeping our lives straight!)

Aside from our regular classes, we had over 20 extra curricular activities this week.

 

 

 

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Rocket Time

4-13-2011 ~ Blog #385

(David)

 

The IHM Rocket Team ended the season today with a final launch.  The four shots below show baking flour being aerated and ignited by a rocket motor.

 

 

 

 

 

Svea's Sixth Game

Svea's team won their second game of the season.  Saint Francis de Sales was "Marynated" by IHM's team. 

Svea played well and was happy to be on a winning team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brigitta's Fifth Game

Brigitta's team also won, beating Holy Family again.  Brigitta played her best game ever. 

She got every serve over, made some good hits and really went after the ball.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brigitta's Fourth Game

4-8-2011 ~ Blog #384

(David)

 

Brigitta's team is no longer undefeated.  Although they won the first match against St. Hilary, they lost the second as well as the tie breaker.  St. Hilary has a good team with some very strong players; this was clearly the toughest team they have played against.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Svea's Fifth Game

 

Svea played well today; we were proud of her.  She had several good returns, a few digs and got her serves over the net.  St. Francis Xavier played very well and beat IHM in both matches.

 

 

 

 

 

Normally I only post shots of that show Svea at her best; this one was just too funny to pass up.  This one above has got to be the worst shot of the season.  Open your eyes Svea!

 

 

 

"I got it"

 

 

 

 

Ice Cream!

After today's games we stopped for ice cream; this took them from bummed to happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Svea's Fourth Game

4-8-2011 ~ Blog #384

(David)

   Svea's team lost to St. Joseph's last Thursday, but the girl's played well and the matches were close.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brigitta's Third Game

4-4-2011 ~ Blog #383

(David)

   Brigitta's team won again.  Tonight they defeated Holy Family.  The girls served their balls over the net and returned serves well.  At the third grade level this is all it really takes to win.  There are no real sets or spikes and actual volleys are pretty rare.  It's fun to watch the girl's enthusiasm; they high-five and hug on every point.  They even they high-five and hug on a lost point if there was a good effort.  Mostly they just look like they are having fun. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Svea's Second Game

4-3-2011 ~ Blog #382

(David)

Svea's team played St. Matthew's last Thursday.  They played well.  We were very happy with Svea's defense; her serves could have been better.  St. Matthew's won the first match 25-23 and the second match 25-15.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brigitta's Second Game

Brigitta's team played St. Rita's team on Saturday.  Brigitta got two out of three serves over the net and returned several balls.  IHM won both games.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Svea's Third Game

Svea's team also played St. Rita's on Saturday.  IHM won the first match (25-22) but lost the second as well as the tie breaker (9-15).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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