Monday, July 26, 2010

Oscar and the TAKS

Just had a power failure here on the backporch -- no let's make that TWO power failures. The first time I had just started typing (with a brilliant first paragraph) when the world turned black. I hate when the puter gets shut down without the proper process. You turn it back on, and there is always some type of curt message regarding my skills in shutting down machines. And, yes, there was an appropriate "put down" tonight too. The 2nd time I was editing. When it shut off I had visions of a blog going into bloggerspace to never be seen again. I do want sympathy.
My pup Oscar & I are having a little battle of wills tonight. He plays with a ball all of the time (THAT WOULD BE ALL OF THE TIME). This is the first dachshund I have ever seen who will run, chase, fetch, and CATCH a ball. I'm sure there are more out there, but Oscar is special to us in that way. He is possessed with the ball. Oscar used the same lime green rubber ball for 6 months - never tore it up. Eventually it developed one small hole, developed into a split & weeks later broke in half. Even then Oscar wanted me to throw the "half" ball which he would chase with the same excitement. That was about 2 weeks ago .
We have adopted a new red ball with Christmas green decorations. I throw; he chases; I throw; he chases; I get bored; he doesn't; he barks and chirps at me. Tonight I got tough and left him to wait. He laid down and began to chew on the ball. Well, NO!! He is not going to tear up this ball tonight. I took it away placing the ball on a table. Right now he is barking and chirping and looking at the top of the table. If I can just hold out, tomorrow will be a new day & this ball may live another 5 months, 2 weeks.

I am changing the girls LAST name below...don't know why since the newspaper put her name and photo right up front.
Now this next part may seem just a bit insensitive; I suppose it is, I do mean well though. The Dallas paper, front page, has an article about kids who fail the TAKS test and don't get diplomas. The one highlighted is Ebonee Johnson. She has failed the TAKS test 6 times and, yet, has completed all high school class work. How? How can anyone go all the way through school and not pass the test? Don't answer that.
The article explains and I quote: "...she has failed the state exit exam at least six times since her junior year. Four times since she got pregnant. Twice since she was suppose to graduate. Once since she gave birth to her daughter." Let me point out first that the staff writer, Avi Selk, did not bother using proper sentence structure. That is minor of course. Why should a scribe for a major newspaper even bother with sentence structure? I can mangle da English here; I am not a pro.
Back to Ebonee. The article continues in an effort to explain.
"I'm not going to say I was an excellent student," says Johnson, tucked into the corner of her mother's sofa with 9-month-old Sy'Niyah. It continues that she made Bs & Cs without much sweat at Newman Smith H.S. in Carrollton leaving herself plenty of free time for cruising and clubs .... the thing rambles on for a full 2/3rd page more. The regular Editor must be on vacation this week. My favorite part was that she would fail a class and make it up in summer classes. That worked through 10th grade. She got lucky on her math TAKS that year, filling in the bubbles at random and squeaking by.
The above is just one story - and thanks to me it was condensed from the paper - statistics ignored. When I was teaching I remember stories of students who would go through and mark all "A" bubbles and complete the TAKS test in 5 short minutes. Some would just draw a line from the top of the page down to the bottom, hitting bubbles along the way. It was so hard to believe that any idiot kid would not attempt to do this test right. Morons. That last senior class in Manor (2004, my final year) was sooooo above average. These kids were aggressive to do the things right. And most did. My band kids did.
If only teachers could just slap the ... the ... the ... nope, keep it clean, slap the "snot" out of these monsters until they put an effort forth. I know there are folks who believe that students just need love and a soft approach. Not me.
That is enough of this. Y'all go out and have a nice time tonight. It is raining on my porch and the breeze is pleasant. Tomorrow, the steam will rise and sweat will pour. Need to quit before the next power failure. CLOWNS !!! Mtz WAIT.
oooo oooo oooo a P.S. Left this part out of the story. Keep in mind, the girl is 18 years old with a 9 month old daughter. Just before she took the March, 2009 test, "she got a prison letter from her boyfriend, who had just been convicted on a marijuana charge. He had a hunch, he wrote, that she might be pregnant. She took a pregnancy test the next day. That test she passed. So it is, staying in hiding on my back porch.

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