Sunday, June 26, 2022

Rollbacks, extortion, shortages---What do we do?


                            Church of the Epiphany has continuously helped those most in need

Rollbacks, Extortion, Shortages----What do we do?

In a time of new frustration and vexation, it's easy to succomb to all kinds of acting out. Maybe that is why the Triad has decided to raise once "settled" issues. Over the past week, we've seen a new "contest" over the right for women to have abortion, and a new cry and hue over Republicans wanting to roll-back Affordable Health Care Act. 

The strange and incomprehensible thing is that this comes amid the Democratic insistence for mandatory COVID-19 screenings, mandatory vaccinations, mandatory Green Passes. The only opt out for people not wanting to take these precautions is mandatory self-quarantine, being fired from work, or being kicked out from school. 

Worse is a new "wokism" agenda that creates very strong pressure (think Title IX funds and other government measures) to adopt the new agendas of inclusionism. It has infuriorated many parents who would rather not subject their pre-school children to sex-education, facing their race-guiltiness, or peering at their genitals.

The extortion end is as I just mentioned---threat of withholding funding. This is happened in churches all over the United States which pretty much marched according to the National and World Council of Churches "wokeness leadership." But this also includes all media as well as many professional organizations. Even the American Society of Civil Engineers has jumped aboard.

Even as an Asian minority advocate, it is shocking to suddenly see the number of ads, number of magazine editorial positions, number of writers, and auxillary staff who are---and not just by quota---now African-American. Given that for many decades, Civil Engineering magazine was one of the most difficult in its acceptance criteria for publishing, very selective on which project or study to accept for display, it is surprising to see the new "wokeness." 

To even things out, a new editorial criteria---probably written into their editor's manual---is a mania for requiring anyone interviewed to affix ALL their certificates titles behind their proper names, meaning someone will have about six abbreviations listed behind him/her/it, which makes for a very uncomfortable reading. The magazine is already incredibly doused dry with a mania for Guinness Book of World Records recitation of impressive facts, figures, dollars, machinery, tons, size, volume, under budget, minimum time, safety record, innovation, savings, profit, technology, corporations, but now, there is heavier emphasis on lots of continuing education, degrees, certificates, and in short, a mania for careerism. In one safe interview, a female-engineer admitted her greatest hobby outside of work was watching the Boston Red Sox. A very safe hobby, indeed, and for which she would never be fired---unlike if she said she were a madhatter poet or novelist. But for the rest, an atmosphere of overly succinct, clipped up provisioning of information ---and brow-beating---reminds one of the word "gaslighting"---sort of how mainstream media also now mostly operates. That is just my opinion, of course.

Of course, homophilia has always been a sort of quiet in-the-closet kind of thing at various engineering and technology firms. This even becomes default where the "man conquers nature" theme predominates in many civil engineering companies. But now LBGTQIA+ is acceptable anywhere. It can even make it difficult if you are "trying to screen people out" on the basis of "sexual orientation" even if only for self-protection. Add in the splashes of color and no wonder that a year or so ago the ASCE national convention was held in Las Vegas, NV----well, maybe they took a trip to Lake Mead to inspect the intakes---more on that later.

Gratefully, I have ceased pretty much to contemplate on that in terms of personal interest for some time, and it is admittedly partially due to becoming post-menopausal after receiving radiation treatment for cancer therapy. One's hormones drop, and with it, gradually, even the hot-flashes have subsided. A sort of fatigue does tend to arise in its place...middle-age makes you rethink life, to be sure.

Even for a mild-tempered person, it is a challenge to navigate and negotiate all the changes internally and externally. In America, it's a given that Red or Blue, the pendulum pretty much will swing pretty far right or pretty far left. Although the same groups are marching in a neoliberal, free-market democracy direction, something that has allowed third and second world nations to rise, stringent measures remain in place in the States, because irregardless of the low unemployment statistics, the truth is quite different----everyone knows this. Some years ago, in another article prepared for APAforProgress, my research indicated that the real unemployment rate, before the Covid crisis, was over 18%, and so if you factor in all the people who are underemployed today, the current rate may as well be about 25% at least. 

As a progressive, I can't say liar outright. I read the Red-side of course, and accept that there is a lot of corruption involved with this war in Ukraine---and that the President and his son had been involved there since 2014. There are even videos that this son purposely produced, perhaps for the sake of exoneration, displaying his addictions. Unlike the average citizen who would be jailed, he is now in a state of permanent rehab, with security or secret service guarding him while he creates "first-rate" art pieces in his new career as an "artist." Whatever.

The most pressing problems are occurring because as even foreign vloggers are pointing out, a rise in gas prices faster than inflationary rises means that many more small businesses may go under. That will quash the recovery from Covid. Catherine Austin-Fitts even goes so far as to speculate that "It's not a turndown, it's a take-down"---what the big-picture is from the world elite standpoint. She essentially says that from the point of the Bilderbergs, taking down the middle-class will be profitable because all that will remain are the megacorporations----Walmart, Amazon, Target, Microsoft, etc.----who can weather the inflationary storms. 

A shrinking middle-class, no matter how the government states it, means fewer jobs, more underemployment, greater competition or cheating or nepotism for what remains, and higher barriers in achievement (except for the Title IX hiring quotas). So what only requires a high-school-degree to actually design a smart weather station network, DIY home appliances, solar farming, or whatever will now "officially encourage a Ph.D. in engineering" for acceptance in peer-reviewed magazines.

In other words, as the Libertarians see it, the 1%'s desire for governmental or world centralization with fewer benefits for the masses necessitates and enables a parallel growth in technocratic surveillance and monitoring to make sure that we all conform. Meanwhile, the shots or RNA-doped fruits and vegetables will ensure that our glasses only see "GREEN" just like the citizens in the Wizard of Oz did.


Voting means nothing. Our voices go unheard. Acting out, unless you are LBGTQIA+ and a person of the right color, will tag you as an insurrectionist. And the society has admittedly become outright heathenish. Whether it is spirit-dinners, pagan festivals, Voo-Doo jewelry, freemasonry tattoos, the city has become a jungle for signifyng trendy tribal stripes. This is the leopard that Dante encounters early in his saga in the Divine Comedy

Our society, centered around right vs. wrong, black vs. white, is by design breeding divisiveness with the only centrist theme being consumerism. That is the point of the rollbacks, extortion, and shortages----we will be at one another's throats before thinking to peer into our own American Soul. Is there anything else there besides a black hole? One is reminded of a recent NASA revelation that at the center of our galaxy might very well be evidence of a black-hole. Will the word "black" be contested anywhere it's used? Maybe we need to rename the hole, so it doesn't sound "racist." That kind of shallow, straw-man, vein of thought now derails any scholarly discussion, test-scoring, admissions criteria, last-man-in-space, etc. 

One thing I am consistently reminded of in the middle of all this harmfulness is that of one vignette in the Journey to the West (Monkey) saga. Sanzang and his pilgrims are travelling across the river of pregnant waters, and he and Pig become pregnant. The first principle of Buddhism is Ahimsa, do-no-harm, yet in this tale, Monkey finds and provides the precious mountain water allowing the fetus to be eliminated from his bowels. 

So being from a Catholic background, the first thing we think is why this is allowed? It turns out that although it is not encouraged, it is okay to eliminate the unborn fetus, especially if it will interfere with one's spirituality. Here, Sanzang was on a special mission from Emporer Taizang to fetch Buddhist scriptures from India, scriptures that would enable a full Mass for the Dead----people who died prematurely---in the underworld. To appease those ghosts, to allow them to rest and prepare for the next reincarnation was more important than bearing children.

But even if one is not on such an important mission, the whole ideal of individual rights, of the First Amendment and Declaration of Independence, is freedom to express (and the Word is Action even in the Bible), should preserve for women the right to abort an unwanted fetus. Of course in the age of "wokism" it is now called into question (read Ketanji Jackson Brown, J.D. who famously stated that she cannot tell what a woman is) perhaps, what kind of woman has that right?

No wonder according to identity politics, I can rightly (and some, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren are doing just this) claim to be a part-black, LGBTQIA+ person, to spin the tale that I qualify for a certain Title IX hiring quota or grant. Whether anyone would believe me is another question----rather doubtful as the judging is for the benefit of name, fame, or gain, not actually for gaining entrance, say, to the Woodley Park National Zoo. 

Ahimsa can be applied to oneself to avoid harm for oneself. We are not trained anymore to think in spiritual terms of protecting oneself for spiritual benefit, for promoting individual tolerance, for advancing on the path towards truthfulness. The same values are found among the Maronites---there are beautiful lectures by Walking the Holy Land tour guides, Andre and Tony Moubarak, on Aramaic prayers.

In order to face the difficult trials of the end times---I know the term is debatable---some people would say all older people think in terms of the end times---but I am referencing the transhuman agenda of forcing humans to become dependent upon technology for everything---the very first most important thing is to fortify ourselves spiritually. It is what got me through the most difficult times in life. My brother helped me in a time of horrible transition during the 90s, and I want to thank him, but he won't communicate with me anymore. So has my sister, my mom, my other brother, and even my dad. I want to thank the Church of the Epiphany minister who smiled at me even when I was in tears and waiting to be admitted into Patricia Handy House for homeless women. I want to thank so many other people, even if there were bumpy roads to travel upon----they often wish you weren't there, for instance. 

In a glance back, a flash-back as it were, I often wonder what would have happened if I remained where I was in California. The fact is that the school system was very nice to me---the teachers and teaching system is really by and large very dependable and friendly. I would have or should have tried very hard for a TA position but evidently was not interested enough. Now that system has been decimated by Covid---the rebound will not be enough to allow even 3/4 of the people laid off to return.

But one of the things that kept holding me back, and I must be honest here, was the very fact of my background in civil engineering. It was not as if I had some kind of crime that I committed---no and this is obvious from other records. It was the fact that from various working experiences, the engineering culture was, in my experience, quite repressive and vindictive especially in cultural and conformity expectations. The overriding mission demands that one embrace capitalism to the core or at least be willing to live in the dark and follow orders like a soldier. If the owners of the company are wheeling and dealing, if they are using their small planes to do some "additional work" or if they are cheating or wasting money, nobody should say anything. And everyone is supposed to love company parties.

Even today, once they let you go, once you leave the company, unless it is for a better position, there is an open shaming and blaming which takes place. If it is a large corporation, such as a county government, the bad-mouthing, reasonable or unreasonable, spills over to all kinds of places, to all kinds of people, even the county public library staff. A huge shadow of false-consciousness forces you to look behind, even when you have taken huge strides forward.

When I wrote those tales of survival, of victimhood, to help me move away, I was not imagining, and some would recognize this, but others would try to shrug it off, as if somehow the victim is complicit. Anytime someone is victimized or gaslighted in bully workplaces, it is akin to being raped. I say this now in the 21st century, and it is an acceptable thing to say, otherwise I might not write it out like I can do now. 

The Asian response has always been somewhat along the lines of conform, obey, be decent, work harder, become better qualified. When I try to explain that this does not always work, that one must be assertive, the old-school types will not understand me at all. Then I point out how the other minorities, namely African-Americans, are not afraid to act out, scream, file lawsuits, use mass-action. I mean, they really can be mouthy and loud, and it seems they are even promoted---they do not face the backlash that normal employees would have, and especially Asians.

Here are a few points that I must try and reconsider though. First, ASCE has for many decades made a point of excluding African-Americans. I even pointed that out to the staff at one point for some reason or other, probably in the interest of combatting bigotry and bullying. Second, African-American rise-up is specific to their racial identity. Good or bad, those identity politics do not connote transfer for other minority races. We can hold it against them or not, that the push against the glass ceiling only benefits themselves. Third, no hard feelings. For every one African-American making it in engineering, becoming "successful," there are likely a 9/10 who did not. It's a very competitive field because of the upping of the middle-class ante. ASCE claims there's a shortage, that salaries are higher than ever. But the truth is there has ALWAYS been a shortage in engineers---even before I graduated from college there was that myth of shortage and high pay. 

If you ever notice how plentiful the hiring ads are for mechanical engineers, that may be the real picture. Maybe one mechanical engineer is hired for a small company manufacturing tools. At a larger company, maybe a handful of engineers and the rest technicians. On board a cargo ship probably only one mechanical engineer. The hiring ratio is based on economics, and the more automated our society has become, the less the hiring of professionals. To this add the penchant now for private-public partnerships or contracting out A/E work of all types. Even when that drives up the costs, it presumably saves on the hiring and retention of in-house staff. I have absolutely no doubt that the days of design rooms full of road-design technicians are now numbered---the A/E technocracy is demanding that.

But strangely one has to ask who remains in place? Often the managers themselves are complicit in ensuring that whatever is on the agenda takes place. Thus if the agenda includes several rounds of environmental reviews (benefiting environmental consultants) or long battles of eminent domain (to ensure that millions are doled out to county lawyers fighting for high speed rail) or increased privatization ensuring that the manager has a hatchet job over the engineers, the manager who does what is told will remain in place no matter what.

It's never been easy in engineering. It's why a healthy fraction of civil engineers would rather work in construction, branch out into related technical fields, or drift from project to project. It's why even now, I personally know of several African-American male engineers who opted to teach school instead. Of the African-American female engineers---there was one in my graduating class---everyone was making fun of her for being near term pregnant while taking courses. Turns out maybe what she was doing made sense---it would be easier for her to justify a hiring with a little one she was being forced to care for---especially on her own.

So here is my prayer from the Lead, Kindly Light prayer book from June 25th:

Christ Displayed in Our Life

Consider how great a profession of faith, and yet a profession how unconscious and modest, arises from the mere ordinary manner in which any strict Christian lives. Let this thought be a satisfaction to uneasy minds, which fear lest they are not confessing Christ, yet dread to display.

Your life displays Christ without intending it. You cannot help it. Your words and deeds will show in the long run where your treasure is, and your heart. 

----Profession without Ostentation

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Teachers Fraud in Hiring Shortages

Musical chairs and draconian workplace

(Originally posted in February 2020) 

It's been a few years since I last posted and it seems I should have covered all the issues. However time moves on. 2020 is an election year and the teachers' unions and pensions have sapped the teaching system to the point that new hires commonly move from school to school for at least the first five years of their careers. Unlike in the 1970s, teachers no longer stay at one school for decades at a time.

My motivation today involves an increasing tendency for Fraud meaning the practice of falsehood or being a fake or faking it. Deception is used for personal gain or advancement. A related term is Corruption which I take to mean a sum of addends such as:

Mismanagement + Entitlement = Corruption

The factors in fakeness and corruption in my current locale coupled with the gig economy is hollowing the traditional public school systems and taking its toll on workers. Here's an example of an article by published last fall, "Classroom 'exodus': Education schools grapple with finding the next generation of teachers as more leave the profession." 

The author points out a lot of situational irony embedded in the idea often promoted in the media that we have endemic shortages of white collar professions: teachers, nurses, engineers, and doctors. As an Asian-American female engineer, my experience is the opposite. The so-called shortages are based on employers need to select only one best qualified applicant among a huge pool of talent since the engineer's salary has climbed to $80K. As a teacher, my experience is a dissimilar but parallel story of underemployment. Certainly I am grateful to have grown all-around in human awareness and intellectual development; however, in education the competition is couched in subtle cues and complex psychobabble. In short, teaching shortages are due to high turnover in an industry that has become the manufacturing counterpart of musical chairs.

Teaching schools dangle the material incentives of becoming one of the increasingly select tenured employees. You will receive loan forgiveness if you work in a Title 1 school. You will receive full union pay and benefits. You will accrue societal merit and recognition in civic society, for growing the dreams of the younger generation. You still get your summers off, and can spend that time pursuing your dream hobbies, or travel around the country and showcase all-American glamor.

Today very likely up to 50% of teachers are no longer experiencing all those wonderful things. Imagine that applies to the ones who are staying in the field, not leaving for greener pastures or sneaking into desk jobs where the stress might be lower. All teachers must center their statements around their love for children, teaching, and the education community. (Gone are the days of the stern spinster or nuns whose love was based upon abstractions). Nor is it even like the 1970s when you had nice affable teachers who took time off in the middle of the day to play golf, take their children to the doctor, and felt compelled to share stories about their travel adventures and hobbies. Those teachers might really have cared about poor children enough to bring them bags of gently worn clothes. 

In contrast, today's beautiful teachers point the children toward social workers and are proud of their controlled moral dysfunction or existential support for anomie.

As I stated in "Substitute Limbo" you will be duly marginalized and live the shaky life of a permanent substitute teacher if you dare to share your love of art, theater, journalism, writing, politics, religion, or anything else under the sun in a way that threatens the ego of your supervisors. (And it turns out that many permanents have tender egos or fake appreciation). Their opinions don't just apply to rookies; pronouncements are used to thin-out and lay-off seasoned teachers as "ATR Purgatory" (Absent teacher reserve) is used to isolate and shame those teachers who dared to question or march or organize or wear a political button.

At one school district all the teachers were supposed to wear black tee-shirts on Fridays symbolizing their support for the War Troops. Good principals wore the U.S. flag button on their lapels (same as in government offices). The message was that if you didn't do or support those things, you were an unpatriotic and therefore bad person. You earned a black-mark that could jeopardize how you are rated by students and peers. However just like living under any regime, Arab-Americans were not spared if they did all the right things; they endured harassment and criticisms anyway. (Mostly, fake liberal-proclaiming, elite-worshipping teachers who are mostly white don't give a rat's arse about culture really; it is all so they offer one another positive handshakes on being politically correct.) 

Popularity is not supposed to matter at schools. If you are conscientious, care about the children, plan wonderful curricula, and produce improvements in class performance, why would anything else matter? Because since the 2010s everything has become data-driven. When you attend training, it is not to improve your area-expertise or your philosophy; instead, there is a relentless push to quantify everything. If you are a teacher-leader, you will be scientifically studying how to modulate student behaviors by conducting test-cases on types of strategies which work, and charting the results. If you are a professor at a university, you can no longer teach just using a textbook; you are pushed to excel at developing fully self-navigable courses online including holding virtual discussion groups. (The less actual classroom face-to-face you have, the better, so academia and IT can pocket the change). 

All the fields are being pushed toward their limits by Artificial Intelligence according to Socialist Worker's article, "Let them eat Data." Some children do well in self-mastery programs, while unfortunately many do not. After all, is not one of the purposes of education to include healthy socialization of the child? What is healthy about being tracked and managed whether as a family, indigent person, child, homeless child, displaced worker, or privileged model citizen?

Thanks to the Patriot Act and progressively authoritarian Presidents, huge data centers such as the National Security Agency in Utah, have been built to allow collection of unlimited amounts of data on people, their habits, movements, interests, associations, etc. What they do with this data is often unclassified (meaning they can do just about anything with it). My belief is that we are attempting to build The Tower of Babel using computers, automation, technology to create The Ultimate Robot.

If that sounds paranoid, let me share how my most recent job opportunity came and went. Teach for America (TFA), one of the largest alternative teaching certificate programs in the United States developed a subsidiary named Enriched Schools in 2012. When a mentor shared this idea with me, I thought it was the grand opportunity I had been waiting for. The motto: Reimagine Substitute Teaching sounded exactly like what I had been waiting for all these years.

"You can be a substitute teacher while leading a fulfilling life on the outside as an artist." 

"Share your love of news journalism while teaching part-time as an English teacher."

"Be the actor, care-giver, minister, or cook of your dreams while earning extra income as a substitute teacher."

No Kidding, What a Hook!

There were things in the application process which raised immediate alarm bells, but I eagerly swept them aside. First off, the lie that "the application takes only 5 minutes to complete." No, that really was not the case at all; maybe the first two questions. There are at least 20 questions though. Second, the fact that almost everything was done virtually. Application, interviews, mandatory reporting course, uploading all critical documents (drivers license, fingerprints, medical documents) was done mandatory. Only the final interview and training were conducted in person.

What does Enriched or TFA do with all that information? It's really scary because they are hiring like crazy. Enriched has expanded to cities across the country in just a few short years. They must collect reams of data, and TFA with its $350 million dollar plus budget does so as well. They keep everything whether or not you are hired, work a few months, or they deliberately place you on no-call.

It's not like when you applied at the local school district two decades ago where there was a packet of paper forms to fill out, and then background checks. Today there is a checklist that would fill up two sheets of 8-1/2x11. Of course I did what homework I could, and my application was well-received. But the website (5 months ago) had NO real "About Enriched Schools" section. Just this page with glamorously joyful Substitute Teacher testimonials, and when you pressed the Join button you were whisked to the offsite application page which again promised to be fast and easy---provided you didn't need any Save buttons. 

Obviously their IT is talented and busy. Just a few days ago, they grafted on brand new About page. Much too late, I realised the About is packed with professional careerists in the Beautiful People category. They are all mostly TFA graduates who have gave Teaching Their All. 

"Why would anyone believe that elite careerists have empathy for authentic grassroots artists?"

We had recognized the fake button too late: They don't! They practically hate them! 
Most of the programmers and staff at TFA/Enriched spend many hours ogling at their computers, drinking coffee, meeting at WeWork style drafting tables, discussing applied pedagogy, and looking down their noses at outsiders. In D.C., we only really have two separate classes of teachers: The Leaders (elite, privileged, white), and The Field Hands (inner city, underprivileged, black). If you understand anything about D.C. Washingtonian History, it's always been this way. If you are pre-identified as Field Hand, if you want to be hired and stay on the job, you had better know your place!

(Nowadays it is not uncommon for desperate wannabee permanent inclusion teachers to share the most painful sob-stories; I have heard at least two stories of being in chemotherapy and others looking very much like they live in their car.) 

For West Coast educators it takes awhile getting used to seeing Inclusion Teachers (fancy-title for Special Education Aides) wearing super-tight torn jeans, converse tennis shoes, purple dreadlocks, garish fingernails, multiple tattoos, and gothic lip-stick. If their attire does not convince you, you know that in class they will often be engaged with their iPhone listening to Beyonce and Jay Z, or messaging with a vast circle of Facebook friends. If they strike you as minimally engaged or even underachieving, it's okay because they are entitled to their positions as an underclass drawn from the local poor, raising children, and often having grown up with their own Special Needs. 

The Teachers (mostly white, or mixed-black graduates of Howard University) can often barely keep their classes in order, but because they are privileged, they are not chastised and not even necessarily held accountable. If their class underperforms (which can often be the case since the Teachers do not assign that much homework in public schools---an unconscious form of ingrained classism since they would expect much more from their own), the Teachers can easily transfer to another school.

But if you are a Substitute or Guest Educator (how Enriched calls them), BEWARE. Enriched specializes in hiring minorities. You MUST pre-identify as Lead or Support, which is code for Teacher or Inclusion. The HR gave a hint that most of us should be Support. Foolishly, I asked for Lead. I mean that I did call in as Support, and tried doing that, but due to the shock of the Field Hand culture, and seeing how young and inexperienced the Teachers were, I decided to try Teacher.

That was what abbetted my downfall. I was told by the new supervisor and the Enriched Scheduler: 

"We are trying to find a school and location that would be a good fit for you."

No matter how I tried to explain that I was not picky and would work anywhere, they saw it differently, being my "intermediaries." Turns out these intermediaries did not believe that I was suited to work anywhere. They decided to cut me out of the list, despite the fact that I was well-qualified, showed up on time, did more than was required, and got along with everyone. 

My pointing out that they overhired people did not help. The new supervisor sent a message out in January about "We are having a problem, we need to hire more people. If you provide a referral we will offer you a $100 bonus." Because I had the audacity to text her back pointing out that I was not being offered work even half the days that I signed up for, she made an issue out of that. 


ONLY AFTER BEING OFFERED VERY FEW DAYS WAS I FORCED TO TEXT MESSAGE THEM MORE OFTEN, BUT NEVER IN A WAY THAT WAS OFFENSIVE. Thus, it is patently false for them to have used this as justification to put my phone number on lockdown. It was cruel and draconian of EnrichedSchools to enact such measures particularly in lieu of their inexplicable, arcane decision-making on assignments and on evaluations. The new supervisor had no evaluations on me to speak of, but based her shutdown on over-reaction to words such as "sure" "snap judgment" and "used to scheduling my own work dates." 


Again, most West Coast teachers would not understand that Back East, the so-called liberal Teachers are just as class-conscious and race-conscious as in the Old South. They just hide it much, much better. In fact, they often truly believe that they are wonderful, politically correct liberals to the point of seeming to be toadies. But no matter how unkempt, anemic-looking, nerdist, and detached from Nature they appear, they will always remember they are white from their behavior to associations

That qualifies as fake in my book. What remains unstated or left off the printing press is that today's teachers (thanks to almost two decades of wars in the Middle East labeled as good for democracy) are constantly encouraged to police themselves, operate pan-optic rumor mills, and tolerate what outsiders might view as micro-aggressive, control freak, mind-control administrative programming. 

Whenever you attend any district seminars, whether leaders or field hands, all employees drill one another over "where do you work" "what is your classification" which is code messaging for identifying job stability and income category. If you (like me) dare to mention Values, Homeless People Living Near NOMA Metro, or that you are Differently Abled, you will witness an incredible amount of hostility towards you even by "teachers who work at Schools Without Walls." Strangely enough, they will be leering and gossiping about your DARING TO DISPLAY DIFFERENCE!

(The double-standards in teaching has never been worse. As an engineer with teaching experience, they will not allow me to teach STEM; because more pay is involved those slots are rewarded to senior teachers---even if their primary qualification is teaching English! And the friendliness towards white male teachers has never been more favorable in Teacher Education; whereas in engineering the women are scorned and sidelined!) 

The current levels of fascistical expectations to conform and obey are enabling the acceptance of the dark government operatives. These operatives, disguised as anything from experts to nonprofits, are eager to infiltrate the system to support the profiling and setups needed for drug-peddling, child-sex-trafficking, establishing porno-rings, and promoting more satanic overtones in the school culture. 

At one West Coast school, this educator identified one white-male educator who most likely is a member of the Hell's Angels during his off-duty hours. One school principal glorified in his wartime exploits and often included sexual undertones in patronizing attitudes towards female employees. 

There have been lawsuits and investigations into the bizarre stories of child rape, and cultures of pedophilia in the LASD. But even at BSD we had teacher convocations that celebrated Michael Jackson look-alikes, making you wonder about the double entendre

What else can one make of the strangely unsettling push to expose toddlers to transgender sex clowns including taking riding-romps on top of the transexuals? and have reported and depicted these drag-queen presentations--- not geared to enlighten our community spiritually but instead to support all manners of bestiality. Instead the NWO Pawns in the Game (William Guy Carr) agenda supports labeling as "right-wing" and even as "anti-LGBT hate-group"! 


The ostensible reason EnrichedSchools DC gave me that they had an issue was that I was not accepting enough of their message system. As a past Substitute Teacher in a School District, I had the privilege in the past of scheduling my days and roles in the school district computer system by myself. serves as an intermediary, meaning they decide for you what school you will work at, in what capacity, on what dates. And they tell you they know what's best for you!

"They aspire to become the bonafide TFA subsidiary intermediary employers operating in urban cities around the country, thereby becoming in effect dangerous draconian gatekeepers of teachers aspiring to the middle-class, while retaining a non-unionized amoral underclass of field hands." 

Workers have to call in almost every single day, at multiple times, checking their messages almost every other hour as they transmit "inspirational" messages, ask you to clock-in, clock-out, provide feedback, and check on feedback. They will message you from 4pm to 10pm, from 5am to 4pm. And you are not allowed to say ANYTHING that is questioning, and WOE IS TO YOU IF YOU ACTUALLY DECIDE TO PROVIDE FEEDBACK ON A JOBSITE. 

Because remember they mostly sit on their butts all day long, so they LOVE TO DISCUSS which is the code for gossip, innuendo, faulty conclusion----ALL WITHOUT YOU BEING THERE TO DISCUSS IN PERSON. And if you dare to visit them in person (like I did) it became the means by which my new scam-artist supervisor decided to cook up a negative counseling memo. Even if I had tape-recorded our conversation and there was nothing there for incrimination, my being present gave her the excuse she was looking for. Incidentally, the day I stopped by there were no less than six more interviewees being processed through the system. When they are invited to headquarters, chances are they will be hired. So no wonder she is looking for an excuse to set my number aside! 

With regard to how friendly and understanding these staff are. One staffperson frequently addressed me "Hey, what about working tommorrow at...." peppering with messages afternoon and evening. I would accept and then she would message back saying, "Oh no, already taken."

I complained about the lack of courtesy and the unpredictability. They complained back that I should not message them at all except to say "Role Ready" once per morning. I would wait by the phone for several hours, starting at 5:30am, and then half the time, nothing.

Then in December (my second month), my old supervisor, Nhandi J., accepted a better position at DCPS. The new supervisor has all the characteristics of a classic ADHD. She began to direct her attention to me in ways that were deliberately targeting. Anything I stated would be twisted around.

"So I sense you are angry and have a negative attitude about our message system?"

I tried to pacify her and explain, no, really, I just wanted to there to be more consistency and perhaps they could explain to us exactly when, how, and at what times they will message. Saying "Sure!" to the scheduler should not be confuted as some kind of rude response. The new supervisor would interject herself right into the scheduling process and ask me if I could "call her back to chat." She knew that she is being very intimidating because we temporaries are already beside ourselves waiting patiently for message-placements, but then on top of this, this dame demands to chat (more like brow-beat) with you on "you-say, we-say, what-did-you-mean, you-must-have-a-problem" etc. 

Because she is my new supervisor, I tried to market myself as experienced in education, eager to work, filled with ideas to implement my Teacher-Toolkit of plans if ever needed, etc. I followed up with a thankyou note with my titles, A.Sc., B.Sc., P.E., M.A. She promised to get back to me, though I detected deliberate snarky meanness that from my decades of work can only mean one thing.

When I asked her if she wanted to get rid of me, she replied, "You are very well qualified, but you are free to look for other work if you want to."



Meanwhile the fancy careerists at TFA and EnrichedSchools keep all this DATA about me that they will be able to keep and use for nefarious purposes. (We have many teachers here from Africa and other parts of the world). They will continue to brag about their successes in their fake magazines.

They are aiming for rising up the ranks of the capitalist pyramid foundation game, and they do this by using their many IT professionals to inflate or fake the ratings and reviews at places like and all the other suspect places where they can plant fake positive reviews or shill how THEY DESPERATELY NEED MORE AND MORE EMPLOYEES, WITHOUT EVER MENTIONING THE HUGE BACKLOG OF HIRED EMPLOYEES THEY HAVE LAID WASTE TO.

Believe me, most of these careerists at don't have the qualifications or life experience that I do, but being mean girls and toxic careerists, they really don't care that they are playing with the hopes and dreams of we independent contractors, perpetuating musical chairs and revolving doors, while pretending to the world that they earned their keep and are entitled to more respectability than the PhD driving a taxi or cleaning upholstery. These Teach for America, and EnrichedSchools organizations are so fake they develop teachers who willingly plagiarize unit plans, adapt material for their publications, fake connections with Native Americans, pretend to care deeply about your community, all while being narcissistically obsessed with growing their Beautiful Life portfolios.

This is why reviewers at recommend that you RUN THE OTHER DIRECTION, and do not take them at face-value. Other reviewers describe TFA as being only concerned about building relationships in the community (neoliberal code for establishment networking excludes the lower 50% disenfranchised underemployed grassroots communities) meaning they care more about advancing their brand than addressing your concerns with being placed in an over-sized classroom filled with at-risk students many of whom live in unstable neighborhoods with unemployed parents.

Is it any wonder that the new supervisor, a mean-girl-operative, understands her orders about what constitutes an unfit person? "Someone who is Gen X, experienced, well-travelled, well-qualified, connects with grassroots communities and people of color, is well-rounded, and delivers neat lesson plans because she is NOT committed enough to giving 120% of herself 120% of the time for a real TFA type!" (That, and maybe the fact that "She writes, blogs, opines about the state of the world and climate change"?)

My new supervisor addressed my concerns with utter mockery in her voice, showing nothing of the empathy, understanding, support, encouragement, that a new employee deserved. Her pretext for a dismissal said it all, that this is something they are doing ALOT NOT JUST TO ME. And just to knock the worker down some more, in response to my volunteer work at another educational nonprofit she said, "Oh, I know about them. We've worked with them before." Her remark meant that while she did not acknowledge my value, she is proud that she networks with them (which reminded me of some mean creepy engineering consultants I used to work with back in the 1990s).


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Substitute Limbo in BSD

 Image from

This is indeed a thorny and difficult topic to broach, the limbo land of working as a substitute, whether as a certificated substitute teacher or classified substitute aide at Bozo School District (BSD).

Anyone who is hired a BSD is initially very grateful because it signified they have jumped through all the hoops---and believe me there are many---and are able to get into the system.

You are grateful you now have a school account, your own email address, and access to the computer log in, where you can schedule your own work. In fact, many substitutes are grateful and can afford a part-time, temporary status forever. For instance, they are financially secure or have care-giving responsibilities or even work another preferably related job.

Snags around references

However the snags about working as a Substitute circle around the potential for transitioning to full-time, and in particular garnering adequate references or letters of recommendation.

In fact the former is mostly addressed in the plethora of transition to educator programs available through night-school. They also include government sponsored programs such as Teach for America. And many school districts (partnering with the local university) run Teacher Certification programs as well (even BSD offers this).

Both of the snags are somewhat interrelated. In order to qualify for a program, you must have adequate teaching experience and letters, for instance, a letter of offer to teach at a school.

The problem is, especially if you are an older worker, that it's very easy for Substitutes to become overlooked. Although marginalization is often couched more politely for certificated workers, there is nonetheless the stereotype of the Substitute somehow being not up to snuff.

In particular, if you are only on campus a few days a month, the principal or staff doesn't seem to  remember you very well, meaning they are unlikely to furnish you a letter of evaluation. Conversely, if you do not manage the classroom well or responsibly, they have the power to instantly write you up. Even if you have only had one bad write-up in the past 4-5 years, it may count against you.

(And believe it or not, if you have the audacity to complain about anything, they will invent a write-up about you or set you up for a bad situation).

This means that Substitutes (especially long-term ones) are often extremely willing to conform with any and all school district expectations. That wouldn't seem bad, but what if the expectations are somehow a bit unreasonable? For instance, every child must finish a 20 page classwork packet in 4 hours? At BSD, someone had the audacity to point out that the reason local test scores at one school might be low is because most permanent teachers at the school site are lax regarding assigning homework, especially on weekends.

Someone did not have the audacity to discuss the elephant in the room, which is that BSD sits in the middle of a city that is quite segregated, pitting the well-to-do north against the larger poverty-stricken south. The vise on social civility can be quite aggravating. You observe how nice the teachers are to the students, but then playing cat-and-mouse with the parents. The teachers are proud that they may be receiving extra pay for working in a low-income neighborhood for 8 hours a day, at the end of which they race back to where they live on the north side of town.

These are the type of teachers who have more money to spend on Starbucks than time to volunteer for the local food bank. These are teachers who worry about the high test scores of their children, while covertly discouraging after school study programs. You get the persistent, nagging feeling these types of teachers don't or can't take civic order too seriously, since the only neighborhood that really matters are the ones in which they are able to socialize among their peers.

Recently this came home to roost in that the BSD pointedly told someone they cannot furnish any kind of letter of reference, since they are only responsible for administration. Mark, these are the same characters who hire, evaluate based on employee data, and conduct substitute teacher training.

It was really the same snag we ran into earlier, but we thought that it had somehow disappeared.

Snags don't disappear

Here is more evidence that the snags of being in Substitute teaching limbo can land you in jeopardy.

If you are seeking support from the local substitute teachers union that you pay minuscule dues to, you can just about forget about it. At BSD, the substitute teachers union representative is none other than someone from the HR department at the BSD office. You file a complaint at your own risk when it basically is filing with the HR at BSD.

Are there national unions for substitute teachers? Sadly, they are somewhat few and far between. seems to be running something resembling that, and they have conferences only once every few years. In fact, ironically enough, the site is now advertising jobs with Bain Capital, since Enservio seems to detect a similarity between teaching and becoming a claims adjuster for the insurance industry.

In fact, the possibility of you being a substitute for the rest of your career in teaching has never been higher, according to several sources. New York City is running a vast Absent Teacher Reserve. In the pool are teachers who got downsized due to school closures; teachers who failed to improve their students test scores adequately; and teachers who never are offered a permanent job.

Of course in NYC the salary for a permanent teacher is so high, that even half that income would seem to be quite respectable for substitute teachers willing to commute or share housing.

But can the bottom line, as Larry Littlefield points, be that ATR or Substitute pools will become the new trend because Teachers Unions and School Districts and States recognize they can't afford all those retired pensioned teachers? Littlefield, an accountant by trade, seems to have put his finger on the fact that the NYPSD allocates far more money per pupil than may be spent. If you can believe the figures, nearly four times more is allocated per special education student. Is it possible that the retiree pensions are so high that extra money must be stowed away from somewhere in today's budgets?

The Littlefield thoughtfully imagines a new cottage industry system where all teachers would operate as substitutes, and specialize in teaching online, earning about $20-22 per hour:

"For the more severely disabled, if a home setting were possible, the same pay could be had with a class size of just three or four. A friend whose child has autism fought with the state of New Jersey for years to get the state to pay for education in just such a setting, rather than in a factory school setting.
"And what would a teacher’s career be like in this sort of cottage industry network? Their first five years might be spent teaching, and being trained, in a “mothership” regular school that acted as a central node for the network. That school would make a school building experience available to those that wanted it.

"Then the teacher would start working from home, perhaps conveniently when they had become a parent themselves. Rather than teaching the same grade every year, with the children passed on to other area teachers, he or she could have the option to keep the same children for a decade, right from pre-K to grade 8. Learning a new grade, or math vs. English, wouldn’t be as hard if most of the instructing was done by other teachers, via programs and videos on the laptop."

Naturally this would have every public school district in the nation up in arms. After all, it is not as if charter schools have done that great a job. The Washington Post  ran a series of articles regarding the cornering of the public education market by charter schools. The perception of Walmartization; schools run like businesses; embezzlement of allocated funds; failure to adequately provide needed academic services; autocratic school philosophy; mistreatment of students and teachers; all of these are potential issues when schools become privatized. Working at charter schools, you may have anything from an overfilled school classroom, to inadequate down time for teachers, to absconding by the school administration, to a lack of balance in the curricula.

Hung in Limbo forever

Nothing so symbolizes the current crossroads in teaching as the story of the substitute teacher suspended for showing the students a film about Frida Kahlo.

Firstly, such a teacher ought to garner special recognition for offering her class a lesson intersecting history, art, culture, gender identity, yet instead she is punished for engaging her classroom. BAD!

Second, Frida Kahlo herself is a Latina heroine worth emulating to some degree because she possessed the courage, tenacity, and resilience to overcome different types of personal trauma in the form of disease, accident, marital infidelities, prejudice, and living in her husband's shadow.

She was literally the type of heroine who lifted herself up by her own bootstraps, her complicated sexual identity notwithstanding.

Today, increasingly, we live in a society of instant labeling, judgments, and scorn where one would have thought the Information Age would have advanced human understanding and tolerance.

Trumpsters might only see the surface, a gal with facial hair or hirsutism. A misfit consumed with her art in place of shopping mall narcissism. A woman with revolutionary ideas on political activism. 

How would a real-life Frida Kahlo fare today in the classroom we wonder? Would she be able to work as a teacher and still be an artist? Would not BSD punish her for her outspoken revolutionary tendencies? Would not the school administration and tenured professors try to squelch her sense of humor and fierce independence? How willing would they be to provide her accommodations?

Sadly, one can hardly imagine today's Frida Kahlo being accepted or being able to serve in Teach for America hardly. Why do I think this? Because teaching has become precisely what it should really not be, which is the Master's Degree in Pedagogy. A pedagogic person tends to be narrow-minded, overweening, and even materialistic or pecuniary (since why go to all that trouble if you are not in it for the money). They believe that if you want to advance in education, you must teach 24/7.

Though the teaching programs will never say it to your face, you are unlikely to be welcome to teach if you love writing or art or making music first. Those things must become a distant second and mostly third, meaning you must settle for being a dilettante rather than a real artist. More important of course would be the extra countless hours of volunteering needed to establish more references!

Of course, there are always exceptions. Maybe there are a few Frida Kahlos working in Limbo. We just don't know about them because their lives are troubled and fractured because they are floating from one temporary teaching job to another, their belongings in a mini-storage, and their art literally hanging by threads. In fact that would have to be the case if she ends up in a jobless limbo, as a part-time instructional assistant

Today's poor Frida Kahlos would be shorn of any benefits at all unless she set aside time for fighting for a higher minimum wage, for national low-cost health care, and for a guaranteed basic income. All of those things that only paupers need to be concerned about...

Thus, we don't need the Trumpeters to tell us how society is becoming undone. It is obvious that there are fewer and fewer Frida Kahlos being promoted in the media who have the time to juggle art, teaching, homelessness, and fighting for civil rights. Growing a mustache might just signify the audacity to endure in the boundless hate faced for bringing pointless matters up to social attention.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Dealing with Sociopaths

Because this is just a blog, it's a relief to get to talk about a problem that has been growing. That, to me, is the increasing numbers of sociopath or manipulator behaviors and personalities.

It's quite sad that there are quite a few reasons for this. First, in my humble opinion, since 9-11, this country has been at war officially with any country that might have terrorists. With (according to one source) up to 1000 bases strewn around the globe, it's safe to say that the US believes that might makes right.

How can you teach children to actually believe that bullying is bad, when in so many ways, that doesn't apply overseas. No matter what doctrine or how else it is justified, it is still amassing arms, selling them, for the purpose of conducting war, killing, bombing, and creating waves of refugees.

War to create peace, is in fact, still war, still violence, still bullying.

Aside from this, there are the plethora of war games, war movies--fiction and science fiction and nonfiction---on TV, in movies, in games, on DVD, at YouTube, in game-sets, on I-pads, etc.

From the second-grade on, the average American boy probably spends a great deal of time obsessing about games pitting one's intelligence to maim, eliminate, or kill opponents since it's a cool thing.

The average American girl will obsess over Barbie dancing, Barbie preening, Barbie dressing, Barbie make-up, Barbie make-over, so that by the time she is a teen, the nose-job, hair-dye, breast-enhancement and whatnot is clearly the cool thing to do.

Sex and death, both had for cheap. Violated or self-violated, new bullies are in the offing.

And then if there are not the virtual sociopathic role models, there are the REAL ones, you know, from Hollywood, Bollywood, access Hollywood, People magazine, American Idol and reality T.V.

In fact, the real question is how many of the condoned role models these days are not sociopaths. We don't hold these ordinary workers to view unless they earned some kind of civic superstar rating.

But the rat-race is what engenders the ruthlessness and egotism that feeds the bully-meme. After all, bigger, brasher, bolder, is what makes better. We have to push and shove our way up.

Arguably, the whole point of the American education system is to keep students blind to the realities of the workaday jungle. Behind their gated schoolyards, they are kept busy at tasks that provide them the illusion they are learning a lot. They are mastering a lot of learning that is graded and will keep their egos stoked for the great American dream.

There are so many hopeful activities, once they get that high school diploma. They can at least go to college where they can get their dreams downsized, or cut down, or shifted, or sent around and around, sort of like visiting the cleaners. They can get their clock cleaned out.

All this time from kindergarten through high school, if they are very lucky, they might get to work a part-time job, most likely nowadays in the service sector. Otherwise, yes, no wonder they start playing games, imagining a reality that isn't but are told is something good to do.

It's good to live in an imaginary world, I mean, you can even play President of the United States, and be living in an imaginary world nowadays, imagining you are living in the United States of the Great Sargasso or something....(just kidding, of course).

Then, there are the genetically prone to be sociopathic. I am not sure why your sibling might be a manipulator or sociopath, but it happens. Wikihow is very comforting to me, because a few years back, I never dreamed things could be so unabashedly presented with such appeal, thanks to some fabulous writers and illustrators.

I'll post "How to spot a Sociopath" first, even though you are more likely to encounter a Manipulator.

Here's WikiHow How to Spot a Sociopath:

I thought it was important because a full-blown sociopath is often, depending on how it suits him or her, a bully, a manipulator, and controlling person. They will use any means to get what they want out of you.

Now in education, there aren't just students to deal with but also your working peers. In fact, the students are pretty harmless compared to your peers. While the students, you can mark down or refer or take punitive action or preferably guide to more sociable outlets, you cannot change your peers.

In any profession these days, I call them the lettuce-wrappers. They turn your job of joy, it doesn't matter what, into work-maze. They obsess over every single little detail on the job and talk about those details endlessly and just won't let go. They jackknife their way into your personal space and then try every which way to disempower you. You know or sense that this is not friendly productive conversation, but there is an underlying agenda of play-to-eliminate.

Here is one description of toxic mannerisms by Kim:

The lettuce-wrappers may have grown up in hard situations. They had to out-compete everyone else in order to remain in the field picking lettuce. They don't give a fig about how the supervisor mistreats them, or planes flying overhead spraying chemicals...they are totally company-made.

That could explain why some parents or neighbors are this way too. Maybe they grew up as refugees or underwent war-time conditions. They internalized and internalized to the extent that bullying is their only outlet. The countries they lived in, the boarding schools they attended, the churches or whatever molded them to become controlling.

Here's a good checklist on Controlling People and how to identify them:

It really is painful to acknowledge that someone near (and possibly dear) to you is a controlling manipulative person. But the only way to start protecting yourself is honestly admitting it.

Yes, they embarrass you on purpose. Yes, they put you down a lot of the time. Yes, for specific reasons, they want to make you feel incompetent or that your methods are not sufficient. Yes, they threaten you or do things to disempower you. Yes, they want to make you miserable because somehow that makes them feel better.

The stealthy way that sociopaths do this also includes the perpetual wet-blanket airs of negative people, who are also toxic, as described here:

You really have to be sort of strong and stoic inside to counter all these negative types of people if they are family, then friends at school, and cultural schools as well.

Over time, as the WikiHow describes, it is indeed tempting to break out altogether. (And this is where the Asian guys hating Asian girls going out with non-Asian guys can really become intensified). But you should never completely break out unless you really trust those you are breaking out with. Because you can be just shifting into a new abusive situation, even more dangerous and toxic, not knowing it beforehand, because you have built-in your co-dependent tendencies.

I really am grateful for the variety and breadth available at WikiHow because they don't just describe, they also diagnose, which is of course very important if you need to try to break free, fight back, deal with it, broadcast it, or whatever.

In case you can't find it, here's the one for dealing with sociopaths:

And here's the one for dealing with manipulators:

WikiHow also posts related articles in the side-bar which is great to reference or compare.

You can't always use these tactics and be assured they will work. In fact, these sociopaths and manipulators, being somewhat sick people, will also be reading these articles to devise new ways to torment you or check your attempts to protect yourself.

You also need to practice these tactics, and take notes on what works with whom. But the rule of protecting yourself is very important. Don't let your guard down. Learn to be assertive.

What if they are your elders or teachers or people of authority like the school principal?

You have to weigh your options carefully. Maybe there is someone you can talk to about it, maybe there isn't. Maybe your fellow students or peers just let things blow off and don't take matters too seriously. In fact, it's a good thing to develop hobbies like meditation, such as Falun Gong, so you can learn to behave truthfully, compassionately, and with tolerance, and be better able to cope.

Turning the other cheek may only work to a certain extent though, especially if this abuse is undertaken to seriously undermine you and cause you psychological harm and distress.

For instance, there are a few people who make it a habit to visit the public library and play or visit super-weird websites. The other day, this poor sick teenaged gal spent almost a couple hours playing dancing Barbie Doll as a game video. It was pretty homophile in nature, and she was also glancing at me askance, as if trying to gauge my interest. Guys will also do those same sick things there too.

Or the school principal can be a draconian Greg Gianforte type, the kind who is pretty nice until things don't go his way. Or the more sinister type like who seem clean-cut, popular, honest, but nevertheless is cut-throat filthy scheming to put one over on people so they can get ahead. Sometimes, you really have to keep your acting hat on, while keeping some notes about things.

In any case, you should not be afraid to be assertive. To this end, I always keep a copy of my bill of assertive rights somewhere, with a few bits and extra pieces added on.

For instance, keeping your information to yourself, you have to practice saying "I don't want to talk about that right now" or "Maybe later" or some other diversionary tactic. The lettuce-wrapper typically won't back down very easily. They want, need, you to tell them information about yourself, because just as soon as they do, they can devise ways to attack you.

I know because the other day, the lettuce-wrapper targeted someone else besides me, someone who stated something to the effect she felt afraid of doing such-and-such. The lettuce-wrapper, with her hidden agenda of play-to-eliminate, immediately latched onto the person's fear and indeed, embellished the validity of such a fear as being a valid deterrent from pursuing a meaningful goal.

Here's advice on saying no:

"Know that it's alright to say "no." A person will continue to manipulate you as long as you allow him to. You need to say "no" to protect your well being. Look in the mirror and practice saying, "No, I cannot help you with that," or, "No, that isn't going to work for me."[14] You must stand up for yourself, and you deserve to be treated with respect."

Here's advice on carrying on a neutral conversation:

"Carry on a neutral conversation. Instead of letting the sociopath do all the talking, speak up and take the conversation where you want it to go. That way you can keep it in comfortable territory, never giving the person a chance to catch you off-guard with some kind of barb. Agree with the person in complimentary ways whenever you can."

Finally remember, your strength can be your weakness, but conversely, your weakness can be your strength. Knowing yourself, their strength can be turned against them.

No, I don't to talk about that right now. Because I just don't. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

STEM Teachers Transhuman Agenda

Arnold battling his younger self, Image from

      This post is about my skepticism that things are getting any better, whether for teachers or students, or the society as a whole. I will use the illustration of the illustrious Science-Technology-Engineering-Math (STEM) programs which have been such a hottie over the past few years. STEM teachers are being elevated in processes that have created a new rat race within the teaching system.

      Want to teach STEM? It appears that if I hold an engineering degree, teaching credential qualifications, English or History masters, working experience, and team-building experience, that would mean I qualify. However it's not so simple. Teachers know that working as a STEM they qualify for extra pay, and extra grant monies. Ironically the ones who commonly entering the STEM field are using standard test-taking methods and years of experience in the school system to qualify. They are not necessarily qualified based on genuine interest as in college majors and work in the STEM industry.

      For instance, in one school, the middle school English teacher teaching STEM was merely teaching her science students how to create a blog. They would be blogging about their science projects. Big yeah! Except she didn't want someone like me in her class. She took one look at yours truly and must have decided I was some kind of super-predator. Indeed, if she discovered I was indeed an engineer, teacher, writer, and all the rest, she would have had me expelled from the campus, which was what she tried to do not knowing much about me at all!

     The White House featured President O. inviting middle school STEM project award winners to an evening at the White House. I LOVE how our politicians, failing to do anything else for the general population, are always eager to prove they know all about education. Just like President Bush in the classroom teaching elementary students something on 9-11; it didn't matter what since it's all about the photo-op and good (fake) public relations.

    So almost all politicians have to get on the soapbox to prove they know more than a thing or two about how to teach our children, even if all around the world, we are providing arms in Africa or the Middle East to encourage the recruitment of child-soldiers.

     Michelle Obama knows about nutrition for children. Gone are the days when we had decent school cafeterias where the food was cooked on-site. Today breakfast or lunch or snacks come in miles and mile or plastic wrapping. Enough to suffocate several baby porpoises every day, one from each school in the district. All that plastic wrapping is very profitable for the petroleum industries, and all that plastic is wonderful in our bodies and in the environment as it breaks down into dioxin, as it alters our gene material, and contributes to making our children reach puberty at earlier ages.

     I can't exactly prove all that, but those of us who grew up from an earlier generation do notice that for some reason more of today's children are predisposed to be overweight, and puberty ages are dropping, healthy snacks not withstanding. (A lot of those diced apples and carrots get thrown out too). 

    STEM is one of those programs which furthermore seems to have so much hype built into it, with all the ridiculously greedy teachers fighting for a bit of the action, that it tends to have a repelling effect on all decent teachers and students. Thus, the self-confirming stereotype is that STEM is about creating wonks, and it must involve curricula like Engineering for Kids camps. The kids are generally favored are male in gender, predisposed to love rockets and fire-crackers, and want to create all kinds of artificial something or other.

     Sorry, but what about STEM requires that it must be robotic? Is it merely the thrill of engaging with trans-humanism, that is studies about cybergs or machine-men as in Terminator Genisys? We are supposed to love these soul-numbing movies geared around man-versus-machine, as in the Matrix, with sometimes one, sometimes the other side prevailing?

      There is nothing about Science, technology, engineering, and math that REQUIRES robot projects. In the traditional definition it could include civil engineering projects like windmills, solar farms, solar science, tree science, agriculture, culinary arts, even tailoring. It can be ANYTHING WE WANT STEM TO BE, from designing a sailboat to camping.

      However the whole point of movies like Terminator Genisys is conjectured around competition, materialism, and capitalism. You may not quite think of it this way, but let me explain. We are brainwashing our youngsters into LOVING to fight to kill. That's the whole point of World of Warcraft or World War games. It deadens youth to the realities of war, death, bloodshed, and incidentally fostering appreciation of genuine loving human relationships. Men are predisposed into believing we must fight an enemy however conjured up, and that it's not about war profiteering or exploiting another country's resources or controlling the flow of currency. So the capitalism and materialism part are buried underneath mounds of bodies.

     So it's not at all surprising that if our country is so bent global domination that entire peoples have become refugees for the sake of enriching gas companies and automobile corporations, that we place a premium on things over people. And one characteristic of this is the ongoing race to the bottom. We don't see the people at the bottom of the ant heap who are being ground up and trampled over into corn meal. We only recognize the need to get ahead. We mimic exactly what we see on T.V. or our magic smartphones. We live in hyper-reality. Even in our dreams we are driving, driving, driving, sort of like OJ Simpson once did.

     In other words, in our mad drive to control the universe, we are undermining our humanity, subverting it into categories of success and materialism. We ignore that the real unemployment rate is 23% thereabouts. We minimize the idea that meaningful employment has become anyone working part-time even if they are earning only a couple hundred dollars a month. We leverage based on empty jobs and virtual space.

      Teachers are so obsessed with the success mantra, they don't recognize that unions are being busted, that charter schools are pulling the rug from underneath them, and that austerity measures will finally kill off what little remains of their respectable middle-class lifestyle. All they worry about is why their children are still trying to live at home, blaming their children for losers.

      Who will prevail in this internal drive to war, in which anyone over 50 will only be able to work part-time, and earn only a tenth of what their life skills, knowledge, and abilities are worth. So yes, what I am implying is that the kind of STEM we encourage, the kind of STEM we reward, exactly reflects our morally depraved society today. We want to reward people who will promote "the new era of robotics" in which human workers will no longer be needed. We have already created a class-based society in which exceptional workers are judged not on their merits but on who they are or where they came from.

     For instance, it's become very popular for female celebrities to prove they are teacher-qualified and love children and can write books. Laura Bush, Jenna Bush, Chelsea Clinton, Taylor Swift, Madonna, just to name a few have bypassed our normal herculean efforts to produce a bestseller children's book and are probably welcome to teach in a classroom at any time. The rest of us can't step foot into a classroom as a volunteer unless we have applied with the school district, have an offer, taken our TB test, been fingerprinted, passed other security checks, and stay within the narrow, predefined confines in which we qualify to work.

    Is this not a class-based society, then, in which the have-nots are working ever harder to stay on the treadmill while exceptional categories of people have RSVP spots reserved? At the top tier are the celebrity teachers, the second tier the ivy-league graduates who are better qualified not because they necessarily worked harder (frequently the opposite, they have an easier grading system) but because of name-university, at the third tier are public university graduates from teaching programs, and at the bottom all the rest.

    (In fact, in the cities, you can pretty much geographically map the different tiers of people and whether or where they live in gentrified settings.) 

    The Grand Result: Far too few "respectable teacher" spots in our rentier-based economy! Way too many students lost in fantasy-land unable to relate with the larger realities and concerns of our planet unraveling!
    So let me ask the question: "Are we there yet?"

    Ask that guy from Verizon, no, Sprint!



Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Lousy Teaching Materials for Robot-Teachers

As the above suggests, this post may be about lousy teaching materials. I'm not going to say the teaching materials teachers must use are unhelpful, just that they are often inadequate.

They are adequate from the perspective of uniformity and teaching to Common Core Standards or state standards perhaps. That often appears to be the aim of the consultants or curricular experts, to provide teachers with minimal subject matter competence who are at a loss in being able to compose their own unit plans something to rely on.

In fact, you don't need to be competent in the subject matter really anymore. This is why there are Masters in Teaching, but less emphasis these days in Masters in Subject Matter (Math, Science, English, History, Art, etc). With the Masters in Teaching, you can teach anything with competency so long as the instructional materials are adequate. You are trained to do one thing well: TEACH.

That's the goal (gall) of the program provided by the school texts, according to Peg with Pen. Worried that her Writer's Workshops would be mauled by having to follow the Springboard script she wrote:
 Best practices, such as Writer's Workshop, will be destroyed at the hands of Common Core because it simply will not fit into the mold needed to create measurable data.
Of course, by now, she is probably using the texts just like any other teacher, which is fine, because any other teacher can use the texts and replace her if need be, which might be one of the unstated goals (galls) of corporate drive to control all aspects of public education:

There will be more tests - many more tests - as Common Core infiltrates our schools and profits billionaires while privatizing public education. The expense will be immense and will assist in the profiteers' plans to starve the public schools while using our tax dollars to dismantle what is left.
 Some students test well, and others don't, but mastery learning is the rage. I don't mind Common Core Standards per se. The standards appear to support cross-curricular standards, learning, enrichment, and uniformity in thought-development. But what about the fact that students are individuals, and individuals think and develop at different rates and in different capabilities?

The best teachers choose and craft unit plans to meet their students needs and interests, not cram unit plans down their throats as swiftly as they can in order to quiz them and generate hope-for test results.

Unfortunately, in Bozo School District, the drive to uniformity has reached an all time high this school year. So far my observations include, as other entry has already noted, no real recess.

Schedule for secondary schools is five class periods (8:00-9:00, 9:00-10:00, 10:00-11:00, 11:00-12:00, 12:00-1:00) are scheduled before lunch at 1:00pm. There are 10 minute transit times to walk between class periods. There might be a fifteen minute transit time instead of 10 minutes 10:45-11:00. Administrative staff uses intercom at 11:00 to offer flag salute and pep-talk. Class resumes at 1:30pm after a half hour lunch. School is officially over at 2:30pm, but most schools have clubs or extracurricular programs between 2:30-3:30pm.

All the security guards at all the secondary schools wear bright polo shirts and drive around in golf carts. The gates are locked at 8:15am and stay locked until 2:30pm. At some schools there are separate gated entry to teachers' parking lot.

What's not to like about school, after all the meals are free?

Just be forewarned you can't go to the bathroom except either before class (you better pee quickly) or ten minutes after class starts but not ten minutes before class ends.

Back to the uniformity of lousy teaching materials. They are pretty much forcing all K-6th teachers to use a set of standard unit plan materials that basically teach to the tests. So for reading, you may be forced to use a 12 page packet of readings with all kinds of comprehension exercises (spelling, matching definitions, fill-in-the-blank, sentence composition, paragraph composition, tests on multiple definitions, synonyms, and antonyms, and summarizing). These exercises are sandwiched between every two pages of reading, and the 12 page packet must be completed in an hour.

So a 5th grade teacher, never mind if she has thirty students or more in her class, never mind if about ten of them are struggling with the most rudimentary reading and spelling challenges, has to work through that packet. That's her goal (gall), she can't slow down, she can't say, well, let's just do half of it, she has to go through the whole packet, and talk the entire class through it.

Do you see what I am getting at here? In the (mad) march to instill uniformity and meet competency levels, the teacher is being forced to do exactly what the district orders them to teach. She has no choice in choosing a different lesson or slower pace to meet her students needs. This is what every teacher in the school uses are these pre-prepared packets and lessons ordered by the school.

Now these packets are based on Pearson texts (developed by them), and if you have ever been forced to buy Pearson texts for college, you know what I am talking about when I say information overload.
 These ridiculous compendiums usually costs nearly a hundred dollars brand new, and no matter if the professor only teaches about half the book, you are stuck with buying that text, because every two years Pearson is sure to come out with a new edition, just different enough you can't do without.

In a Special Education resources class, the pace is slower, but the workbooks are inadequate for a different set of reasons. If they are English language development, they usually appear replete with teacher guidance, unit suggestions, all kinds of (meaningless) exercises, and lots of repetition. Who the mystery writers are often are deliberately obscured but the stories are often filled with baseless claims and of uncertain moral aptitude. For instance, there is the story of "Chee the dog" trying to get a job at a "brick factory" but being turned away. If it's math, the level of arithmetic is maintained at a piteously slow pace that supports attention deficit disorder. Your 3rd math student will have done the same number line exercises at the beginning of the workbook as at the end. Identical number line exercises; count-the-coins and add-the-sum; tally up the lines and group the boxes. These exercises guarantee that even if your math student had more innate ability, by the end of the semester, he will most likely still only be able to barely count to one-thousand and not know how to solve anything but the simplest multiplication problems. The teachers work through such books one at a time, of course.

At a higher level of Special Education, such as English Language Arts Development with technology use of zero, for 9th grade, the class might be taught by special education instructors who double as P.E. teachers. These are usually the most half-hearted teachers when it comes to special education, since that's just something they are filling in for. As such, for instance, if your teacher is given an English lesson with a reading from Kathleen Barlow, like "Coming of Age Ceremonies" with Dutch anthropologist Arnold Van Gennep, he will have no idea how to juice it up at all. Instead, his limited understanding encourages a formalist reading and writing approach, which is sure to alienate the students. Most trained English teachers would realize that these kinds of readings, coming from the Victorian era, are filled with colonialist perspective; the explorer was selling his exploits; he could barely contain his disdain for the peoples he wrote about; he would never disclose the abuse or savagery of the Dutch in taming these colonies.

A trained subject-area teacher often brings to their specialty an idealism and enthusiasm that cannot be simulated by a robotic imitation who has merely passed the credential exam. Because they love the subject that they teach, they hope to transmit their knowledge and understanding; it goes beyond simple testing and rote-mastery. In contrast, the teacher who is only trying to enhance their responsibility and pay level does not care if his students perceptions become warped. They will use the Springboard book as an authority without any effort in providing historical context, background reading, alternative perspective, perspective looking back, or the feelings of people of color.

Just as Peg with Pen expressed her anger about having to use "nonthinking, soul destroying worksheets such as these," Storm also conveys concern over the loss of autonomy---not being able to use the units one takes time to develop over the summers:

I think many of us who are or were teachers have a sense that what we are losing is a kind of "risky autonomy," a space of possibility that can prompt the wholly untutored "self-discovery" by the students (and that reveals an opportunity for growth in the teacher as well).

The scripts are simply getting tighter and tighter and straying from the script is no longer acceptable and instead is punishable.

So, what this, again, as you know, is another method of control to reduce the "unknown" that might happen in a classroom, in a relationship, between student and teacher.

The blog entry was written in 2012, and with a contracting middle-class, with more temporary teachers than ever, and the education mill cranking out Masters in Teaching experts, we are at saturation point. With so many part-timers, maybe it is time we think about guaranteed Basic Income and time-share arrangements. We don't all have to aspire to do the same thing when what they really want are flesh-covered robots.