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I come here and see the top-rated diary by bkamr about the impact of the economy upon her middle schoolers.  I teach high school.  And because I teach government, we are discussing aspects of the government in which the condition of the economy is an important part.

And there is absolutely no doubt - many of my kids are scared, too.

And I found it out by accident.

Officially our school is 22% free and reduced lunch (FRL), although we know that understates the actually rate of students who should be eligible.  Until they are seniors and realize that being classifed for FRL is of benefit in applying for college and some financial aid, some of our students don't bother, because either they are not interested in the food we serve or they or their families do not want to admit they are suffering financially. As individual teachers we do not necessarily know the status of the students in our class, and one cannot even tell when students are buying their lunch because their accounts might have money because parents sent in a check, not because the accounts are being funded by FRL.  We have some students who come for the subsizided breakfast, and that does make them somewhat visible.   Nor are we as teachers told which of our students are homeless, although I sometimes find out when I call all my parents at the start of the year.  

So what was the accident?  It was a non-AP class, full of ordinarily performing high school students.   I happened to mention that more than 10% of the households in the US were now on food stamps, because we were talking about programs in the Department of Agriculture (like school lunch and food stamps) that are important even in a county with almost no farms.  And I saw almost half of the students in the class nod their heads when I mentioned that fact.

Since I do not want to put any student on the spot, I did not ask about individual circumstances.  But when I considered some of the recent changes of behavior, such as the percentage of students arriving to school later even though they may be within walking distance, and those seemingly without energy, perhaps because they are not eating sufficiently, a broader picture begins to become apparent.

We discuss the economy in more detail in my Advanced Placement (college level) classes.  Remember, these are mainly 10th graders, which makes them very bright and perceptive.  We have talked in detail about the aspcts of the economic meltdown because it is relevant to the study of government.  We have had some intense discussions about the merits of various programs of government assistance.  When the banks and AIG were being aided, some students wanted to know why individual mortgagees were not receiving assistance.  We have explored in the impact of foreclosure upon land values, which has the impact of lowering the money available to local government -  with a looming possible impact of teacher layoffs and increased class sizes.   These students are astute enough to realize that if people are not shopping, governments don't get sales taxes, other people lose their jobs.  And all of my students understand the multiplier effect - that if one additional dollar is injected into the economy by spending it is the equivalent of around 3 dollars of additional spending;  thus if one dollar is removed, it is similarly like removing three.  We have done small-scale scenarios in class to help them understand this basic principle.

So why are my kids scared?  For some, they wonder if their parents or other family members will keep jobs?  I have already had a couple where the family received a foreclosure notice, and word about things like that can spread fairly quickly among peers.  When the market began its melt-down, some talked about parents and other adults discussing loss of retirement savings.  While that was interesting, they also heard about the decrease in funds available for their education, and that concerned them as well.

At the end of the past two weeks we have encountered massive numbers of first time unemployment claims.  We have explored the idea of unemployment benefits, intended to provide a bridge until one can find another job.   But what if one can't, because others are also losing their jobs, and no one is hiring?  What happens when the period of those benefits runs out, and one still does not have a job?

And as one student asked yesterday, if 10% of households are on foodstamps now, is there enough money for another 5% or more, as increasing numbers of people see their incomes disappear?

One student has a dad who is a stockbroker.  In his case it is not so much the current value of the market, although that remains an issue.  It is the decreasing number of individuals buying and selling stock, meaning fewer - and nowadays smaller - commissions.

There are students whose parents are realtors, with house prices dropping (lowers commissions) and far fewer houses changing hands (meaning fewer commissions) - together that can represent a catastrophic drop in income.

Or the parents in auto dealerships, now beginning to see lay offs in our area.

Or they hear that a large banking company which received massive assistance from our taxes, Bank of America, has announced that it is laying off more than 30,000 over the next couple of years, and they wonder when the layoffs will stop.

The questions are sometimes only alluded to.  Occasionally they are stated.  Often one can read it in the tone of voice, or the facial expressions, or the slumping shoulders.

Here are some of the questions scaring my students:

Will my parents lose their jobs?

Will we have to move?

Will my grandparents be able to retire?

Will we be able to have a Christmas celebration?

Will I be able to go to camp this summer?

Will we be able to go on vacation?

What if dad loses his job, which provides our medical insurance, and one of us gets sick?

Will I have to get a job during school to be able to help out?

Will we able to afford college, for me and my siblings?

When will this turn around?

And on that last question, I can only offer what I am hearing from people who are wrestling with the problem, that if we are lucky, we might come out of recession in about 15-18 months, but that some wonder if, even without failure of one of the big three auto manufacturers, if our economy will recover in less than 5-7 years.

I am 62.  I have a secure job, as long as i want to stay in my current schools, since I have some seniority within my department.  My wife is a federal employee.  We may feel pinched, because we may have to help out family members who are not so secure, and we do not have much margin.  But we are both healthy, so far.  And not having children of our own we do not face the burden of college expenses.  

But I am scared, too - for my country to be sure, but also for the economic future of the students I teach.  I cannot assure them that all will be well, because I don't know that it will be.  Perhaps my job should be to assure them, but I cannot.  Not when I see posturing for political and philosophical reasons, such as the desire of some Republicans to break the UAW and intimidate the entire organized labor movement.  Not when I see the total disconnect between the real needs of ordinary people and the misapplication of taxpayer funds by some recipients in the form of bonuses to employees who helped create the mess and dividends to stockholders who should be bearing a larger proportion of the financial impact.  Yes, I know some of those stockholders are ordinary people whose savings are being diminished, that the stock is held by mutual funds and pension funds, including that for my own pension and 403B plan and my wife's Federal Thrift plan.  But as one who as a teacher is incessantly pounded with demands for accountability, I have to wonder where the accountability is for those corporate types who helped create this mess, and for those in government who enabled that behavior by refusing appropriate oversight.

And my students make this connection as well.  On more than one occasion there hve been comments about how they get graded on their work, and some teachers - me in particular - are quite insistent on holding them to fairly rigorous standards, when those in business and government seem to get no consequences for their failure to perform their responsibilities.

All of that is, however, subtext.  And perhaps all of the questions can be condensed into something basic, even visceral.  For many of my students it can be reduced to something like this:  "what kind of future is there going to be for me and those about whom I care?"  Whether they address that question directly or not, it has a deep impact upon them.  For some they are beginning to question whether they will be able to afford college, and if not, why bother struggling with the hard classes in school?  Others wonder if they are going to have to move, in which case what difference will it matter how they do in this school (and if you try to point out that grades and credits transfer, some rightly point out that each school is different:  some have been through the moving process and found it did not really matter to the new school/teacher what they had done in the school from which they came).

Will I have a future?   Everyone has a future.  But will it have real possibilities, or will I struggle to find a job?  I can't answer that.

I CAN"T ANSWER THAT!   So maybe I am in part to blame, because I cannot be dishonest and promise them that all will be well.  And because I am 62, because I know a lot about government and about history and maybe even a little about economics, they take some cues from me.  

If they are scared, and I cannot help them with their fears, because of what I fear may happen, because I know how serious the crisis is in which we now find ourselves, because I know we have not yet hit the bottom, because I know that between now and January 20th a lot more damage may occur . . .

... because of all that, I wonder if I should stop teaching, so that I do not exacerbate their fears?

I wonder, but then I decide to remain.  Because were I to leave, most of my students would perceive it as my giving up hope, that I no longer believed that my teaching could make a difference.  And if I have no hope, then how much greater might their fears become??

I don't have answers.  This is just me sitting down on a Saturday morning and unloading.  Perhaps it is pointless. Perhaps it is having a conversation with myself, and no one will read this.  I don't know.

I do know my own frustration -  Many of my kids are scared, too.  And I do not know how to help them with their fears.  

Thanks for reading.


Originally posted to teacherken on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 03:56 AM PST.

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    I had not intended to address this.  I read the diary to which I referred above the fold, and my mind quickly filled with recent images and experiences.  And I found myself writing.

    Sorry if my words depress anyone.  They are an accurate reflection of what I encounter/perceive/experience.

    And yet despite that I have to find a way to go on.  It is hard for me.  Think how hard that makes it for some of my children.

    Always, think of the students.


    do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

    by teacherken on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 03:58:18 AM PST

  •  seen at my son's elementary (43+ / 0-)

    Each year they have a tree with "stars" with a child's age and recommended gift, to provide for kids who won't have much holiday. By Friday the number of presents under and around the tree was far more than I have ever seen.More kids in need, more homeless is what I hear from the principal, with flyers on the front door letting families know where to get free medical care and food.

    His school already has a large number getting free meals(over 50% the last I heard)and the economy has not gone so badly here as in other places. My son feels concern that we have a large mortgage for our rebuilt-this-year solar home, but we don't face losing electricity as we make our own. I try not to scare him but keep him informed why times are tighter, even though my husband's work is secure. Parttime job for me, at 56 with few marketable skills? Not likely.

    I just tell my boy about his grandparents' experience during the Depression, and the importance of neighbors keeping an eye out for each other.

  •  Deflation is always scary and very painful. (12+ / 0-)

    -5.38, -5.90 Deus mihi iustitiam dabit.

    by cjallen on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 04:17:04 AM PST

  •  This is something (23+ / 0-)

    I've thought about since I became a teacher. My current concern, like my students, is the economy; my long-range concern is the environment and the effects of climate change on our society. Both of these nightmares are now well underway, and in my dreams I wish I had a way to teach my kids to remain themselves under stress, to recognize the value of education and self-education as a form of protection and self-preservation, to keep their integrity while remaining able to meet and deal with new experiences.

    But, like you, I can guarantee nothing, except that there is a shady darkness in human history just around the corner, and that it is our own darkness, and it is spreading in all directions.

    Forgive me if this is a little too eloquent, but it is how I feel. (Mind you, I also think we humans are probably the only ones who can deal with the dark side of humanity, which is a lucky accident, yes? But we still have to get out of bed.)

  •  Here in Michigan... (41+ / 0-)

    ...the fear is palpable.  We have SO many jobs tied to the auto companies in one form or another.  Their parents work in assembly plants, dealerships, auto parts suppliers, suppliers of chemicals and processing aids, service suppliers, restaurants and grocery stores near big plants, truck drivers delivering goods from suppliers to the auto companies...  the list goes on and on.  No wonder kids are scared.  We're ALL scared.

  •  If Only They Could See (24+ / 0-)

    If you counted the number of suffering who are mentioned here in a week you would have a huge number of those affected. We know about them as individuals because we tell each other. The rest of the country, not so much.

    The statistics are dry and people don't realize the truth behind them.

    There should be a dozen websites with photos of the First Depression of the 21st Century showing the truth about this social disaster that so many are ignoring.

    Joe Biden: Get up! Al Gore: Pray, and use your feet! Harriet Tubman: Keep going!

    by JG in MD on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 04:44:42 AM PST

    •  That first photo (6+ / 0-)

      Is the most recognizable - and according to a program I recently watched on PBS, it had a big impact on the average city dweller who wasn't aware of all the poverty in the rural areas.

      Pictures make it real.

      If you see it on TV - it's even more real as Randi would say.'s not happening.

      BTW, the PBS program was about the photographers and the federal project they worked for.  Even back then the Republicans were spinning the photos as propaganda.

      Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known---Carl Sagan

      by LibChicAZ on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 06:52:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  So many disconnects at so many levels... (33+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the post, and I think we all see varying signs of this whether we're teachers (I am, but at the college level) or not.

    I find it disconcerting that your high school students "get this", as do the rest of us here, while the Congress either doesn't or chooses not to explain it.

    I find it disconcerting that no-one at the national level is even mentioning the disconnect between the lack of accountability and oversight for $350 billion to the financial industry and the strict conditions for the $14 billion to the auto industry.

    I find it disconcerting that no-one is mentioning the healthcare costs to the public if 3 million-plus workers lose their health insurance, to say nothing of those who already have none thanks to losing their jobs recently.

    I find it disconcerting that I feel compelled to use the word "disconcerting" when I'm in-the-streets-with-pitchforks-and-torches angry.

    Peace, indeed.  We'll get through this, together!

    •  I think many "get it", but we suffer from a real (9+ / 0-)

      crisis of a lack of "political will" at many levels of government.  And some don't "get it" and we need to replace them.

      Out of the mouths of babes...may our next leaders be both more enlightened and have stronger backbone.

      Lisa in CT, RIP Silver, Midnight, Jinx, Bailey, Princess, and Sparkey. Our pets who died Oct. 11th in our devastating house fire. We will miss you always.

      by JellyBearDemMom on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 05:08:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I just wish (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril, JellyBearDemMom

        I just wish they would LET the Republicans in Congress stand there and filibuster against decent working men and women.

        Cheney is right: it would be a good way to make sure that Republicans stay out of power for a generation or more.

        Of course, this is sadly happening AFTER they've screwed us.

    •  Disconcerting is the least of it. (11+ / 0-)

      I am frankly appalled that the Senate Republicans are so myopic as to focus only on ideological concerns and comparatively narrower state concerns.  The entire purpose of the Senate is to look at the broader national picture, to place local issues within the broader frame.  Don't those damned idiots realize that if the suppliers crash and burn because GM and Chrysler blow up that Toyota and Honda et al employees in Alabama, Tennessee, etc., will also suffer, and badly?  The stupidity of their position leaves me bereft of sufficiently derogatory adjectives to describe what I think of them.

      "Fighting Fascism is Always Cool." -- Amsterdam Weekly, volume three, issue 18 (-8.50, -7.23)

      by Noor B on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 06:23:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The legacy of DLCism (11+ / 0-)

      I find it disconcerting that no-one at the national level is even mentioning the disconnect between the lack of accountability and oversight for $350 billion to the financial industry and the strict conditions for the $14 billion to the auto industry.

        The Republicans can publicly bash unions and gut the middle class without suffering much blowback for it, because that's what Republicans DO. They know it, they admit it, and they don't care. Full speed ahead.

        The Democrats are theoretically the pro-union, pro-middle-class party, but they don't defend their constituencies with much enthusiasm or verve -- they tumble into meek apologism, at best, and seek to reassure the media that they aren't really "beholden to labor".

        And thus you wind up with absurdities like the above. In FDR's time, the Democrats would be flogging the Wall Street/automaker disconnect in the media like there's no tomorrow.

        But this is not our grandfather's Democratic Party. Sadly.

      "Le ciel est bleu, l'enfer est rouge."

      by Buzzer on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 06:44:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  re: (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mainefem, dogemperor, Calamity Jean, kyril

        But this is not our grandfather's Democratic Party. Sadly.

        It's not even my father's Democratic Party. Sadly. The party I looked up to when I was a child has disappeared into a spineless shadow of its former self. The party that actually had more members expend some energy to fight for the blue collar workers like my dad before the majority of them decided that fighting for the common worker didn't fill their campaign coffers or get them great jobs when they joined the private sector is gone.

        At some point along the way they let the repubs define them as toxic and decided that going along to get along was the best tactic.  That's DLC politics.  Kowtowing to big business and lucrative futures for themselves while spouting mealy-mouthed platitudes to the middle class, all the while weakening them by letting the rich get richer at their expense.

        And I see absolutely nothing that indicates to me that anything has changed.  Look at the way they treated the bailout for the banks (white collar workers and rich CEOs) vs. the auto companies (blue collar workers, white collar workers and rich CEOs)  It is shameful.  

        Perhaps the auto lobbyists weren't offering as lucrative pay for play as the financial sector.  Oversight for the auto industry and a cash free-for-all (including bonuses) with NO oversight or accountability for the financial. I want an explanation for the disparity.

        That class war between the had somes (middle class) and have mores that has been bubbling under the surface for some time is going to break wide open if business as usual is allowed to continue. Either the Democrats rediscover their purpose and jettison the DLC bullshit or we're screwed.

        P.S. We're screwed anyway the Dems will just have the ability to tweak the level of screwage. I'm not hopeful given the past history of this bunch.

        Do you ever get the feeling that the only reason we have elections is to find out if the polls were right? - Robert Orben

        by mentaldebris on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 09:31:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I imagine a 19th grader would be very perceptive (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LNK, kyril, JellyBearDemMom

    having had all that time to notice things.

    "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

    by Geenius at Wrok on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 04:58:57 AM PST

  •  We've Wondered (12+ / 0-)

    Ever since I arrived a little over a year ago Kossacks have been asking

    What will it take to get the people so angry they [insert drastic action here: Bastille Day, tar & feathers, pitchforks & torches]?

    That day is here. But in all that time we never figured out, or presciently predicted, what would happen. And we still don't know, but it looks like . . . nothing.

    Pass me that pitchfork.

    Joe Biden: Get up! Al Gore: Pray, and use your feet! Harriet Tubman: Keep going!

    by JG in MD on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 05:00:18 AM PST

  •  teacherken, so we meet again at 'dawn' (22+ / 0-)

    I've been glued to reading on the computer all night.

    I'll give you some thoughts on your students being scared.

    We do realize that our (American) fears would seem strange to many foreigners and people of older generations. For example, my relatives tell me that it was a question of life-and-death for the first generation of immigrants from the old country....They banded together for a whole generation. Three families per apartment sometimes....

    I think the deeper question for your students is what do they value now? What is the task at hand? LEARNING. Just plain learning. Whether their parents or grandparents can retire, etc. should not be their burden. But they'd better be well prepared to get along well and make themselves useful to family and friends.

    I'm a poor wordsmith, and I'll use the wrong words, but we are sort of 'spoiled'........I lived, studied, and worked in Europe. In nice, middle class places. At one university there was never toilet paper or paper towels after the first day of class. At another the indoor temperature in winter was such that everyone wore three layers of clothing. Eating meat was perhaps a twice a week, small portion ........Lots of soup, bread.......Limited hot water supply: two baths per week maximum permitted.........

    The Republicans are deliberately trying to freak us out. "The Shock Doctrine"

    How about some old fashioned shaming?
    If you have students who aren't getting enough to eat, then it's time for shaming the wealthy and powerful in your area.....

    Oh, and no excuses for kids not being held to normal standard. Explain 'karma''s what you do that creates the world you live in. Their lack of performance just makes their world worse. Plus, what about satisfaction? and honing skills?

    They misunderstand lack of performance in government--a bunch of crooks took over and by their standards they get grades of A for looting.

    Sigh. I can tell you stories about students' bright futures that didn't turn out the way High School predicted.........No matter how smart or how good, those who didn't belong to the favored majority hit glass ceilings, brick walls........

    And many of us baby boomers who were great students, got advanced degrees, and good jobs.....we got dumped when we weren't cute and sexy any more, when our research was not longer 'hot' and attracting grants, and most especially when corporations decided that people over 40 cost more on the healthcare plan than the 20-somethings who moved on to other jobs soon enough anyhow, and didn't get vested in the pension plan.

    I keep coming back to the image of how to instill in young people the ability to sense inside themselves what the eternally good values are. Good deeds, family, friends, integrity, learning, fun, truth-seeking.....

    ....and how to measure what the basic necessities are......And be grateful.......

    .........Good Luck .....Winter is the most depressing season anyhow.

    Media Reform Action Link

    by LNK on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 05:08:21 AM PST

    •  am going to pick at one point (15+ / 0-)

      what is "normal standards"???

      Far too many of our "standards" in school bear no relevance to reality.

      I teach government.  Our students must past a state test in order to graduate.  Yet our politicians, school board members and the like are notably unwilling to sit for that test and have their scores published.  Why?  Are they afraid they won't pass?  If so, does that mean they are unqualified for their jobs, or that in fact we are testing things that they demonstrate are not really "necessary"???

      Before we start defining and imposing standards, I really think we should step back and examine what the purpose of school should be.

      Oh, and by the way, on this I may have to seem to brag although what I now offer is merely to preempt any criticism of the rigor of my classroom -  last year I had 129 students sit for the state exam.  Yes, half of them were AP students who probably could pass the state exam by halfway through the year.  But half were ordinary high school kids, a wide range of abilities and background.  And 126 of those 129 passed, so I must be doing something right.  That empowers me to speak on issues about testing and standards without worrying about distractions of side arguments that I am failing my kids because of some supposed lack of rigor or demand on my part.

      LEt me turn to your final paragraph , the one which begin "I keep coming back"....  I view my responsibility as empowering my students, to be able to learn on their own, to be able to form the values by which they choose to live while knowing that they do not exist in isolation from others, and have to recognize the value and rights of those others.  

      I don't think we are in disagreement on anything fundamental.


      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 05:19:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree that we agree! (7+ / 0-)

        I believe you are a great teacher and we need more like you.

        I'm sticking up for you !

        I was criticizing anyone who whines that they don't have to behave because 'nobody else does'........

        Media Reform Action Link

        by LNK on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 05:24:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  To "learn on their own" is the important lesson (9+ / 0-)

        I think our school systems and society in general failed to teach well.

        I cannot count the times in my late career when "professional," college "educated" people demanded training for something I'd have expected any intelligent person to learn on their own. I was shocked, rather intolerant, of fairly highly paid subordinates or colleagues insisting they could not take on a task without "training." I found that syndrome increasing rapidly in the 1980s.

        Our society and education facilities have too often produced people expecting to be spoon fed and then granted a credential. Unfortunately that credential too often signifies time spent in "training" without respect to any new ability or education in and actual understanding of the subject matter.

        The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

        by pelagicray on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 05:58:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  here's a common pattern in my classes (12+ / 0-)

          a student will ask me a question about something I could easily answer.

          My response - that's a good question.  Why don't you go look it up and report back to the class.

          And I can remind them that the co-inventor of Google is a graduate of our high school.


          do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

          by teacherken on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 06:01:45 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Similarly, whenever my father hired an MBA, (10+ / 0-)

          he found him to be untrainable.  

          My father was a HS dropout, but he was a turn-around specialist.  He had a knack for taking charge of a bleeding manufacturing facility, smoothing out its operations, and making it once again profitable.  (He usually found the problem wasn't with their labor force, but with its management.  His new factories were almost always top-heavy.)  

          Anyway, he got tired of telling these young MBAs to forget their damn classroom modeling, this is how it's done here.  They seldom got this through their thick skulls.  It got to the point were Dad gave up on hiring MBAs.

          A jackass can kick down a barn but it takes a carpenter to build one.--Sam Rayburn (D-TX)

          by Ice Blue on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 07:06:07 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  your father (6+ / 0-)

            was/is a very smart man.  I had an MBA 'manager' (terrible personality) who would go off on these elaborate plans with experiments in data collection to 'solve' a problem in this large manufacturing operation we worked in.  It cost fortunes to execute and never found the solution.
            I found just talking to the people on the line found the solutions in hours or days and cost very little or nothing.  The people on the line knew what was up and where the problems were and they were flattered that they were asked about this or that, the mutual respect was instant and was huge morale booster for everyone.  One time I found, through collaboration with various folks on the line, a 60 cent grounding strap was missing on some equipment which cost millions in lost revenues.

            After 8 years of darkness, a great nation chose to reapply power to the beacon of light America stands for.

            by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 10:52:53 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  I teach computer classes (7+ / 0-)

          and my students tend to either love or hate my class.

          I go over things, I go through the tutorials in the books, and then I give them projects.

          The projects are much more real-life - here's what I want, do it. Little in the way of instructions, other than the scenario (your client is a restaurant, or a new magazine, etc.). That's it.

          I don't care much HOW they do it, just that they do it. Because in the real world, nobody cares what steps you go through, just that you turn out something that works.

          For the mid term, they get a short written quiz, and a design to replicate. Hints of sizes of things, and the text and graphics to place, but no directions.

          There's no way to hide if you've learned anything - you either can do it or not.

          I create the originals, and I don't use any technique we haven't covered yet.

          Some of them do a great job, some of them barely get the pieces together. But they quickly learn that when it comes to anything remotely creative, there's no wrong way. There's no right way. If it works, and the client likes it, it's right.

        •  Too many of my kids (6+ / 0-)

          in middle school demand to be fed the answers.  Then they get upset when I or other teachers won't give them the answers.

          Ironically, many of these sorts are the so-called high achievers.  My sped kids have learned that I'll make them figure it out.  I might give them a clue to accommodate reading disabilities, but I expect them to use resources available and understandable to them to figure it out.

          I figure I do them no favors by spoon-feeding them--but too many already expect it.  I'm not sure where this attitude comes from.

          •  Attitude, unfortunately, comes from bad policy... (6+ / 0-)

            Too many early education programs are "spoon-feeding" (including reading and math) when even they don't need to be.

            Too many education programs are strict teaching to tests, which promotes lower level thinking skills and sometimes even raises scores, but hurts higher level thinking skills.

            The research is scary, and we know what we're doing is wrong. Most good teachers do, as you do (no spoon feeding), but the system is still set up with content as King. Which is stupid, since we ought to know that content changes constantly and has little bearing on success, whereas basic skills and the ability to apply them through critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, etc, will take a child much farther.

            We know this, but they can't write it into district policy. So, they issue content standards instead. It's oversimplification, and the kids not wanting to think critically is just a symptom of the adults not wanting to think critically enough to come up with a program that promotes critical thinking.

      •  as a teacher, I would love to see (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        teacherken, dogemperor, wbr, kyril

        All politicians have to spend a week of their first year in any state- or national-level position spend a week teaching a class, be it 4th grade or high school.  Even just spend three days in the classroom.  Then they can think before they decide all the standards we have to teach and all the other non-academic things teachers are required to do.

        •  I recently had a Congresswoman in to talk w/kids (8+ / 0-)

          my 3 AP classes and the class of kids in our American Scholars program - not honors but kids with a strong interest in history whom we challenge (I get them for Government).  She had a great time, and was quite impressed with the quality of the questions, and we had not done any time prepping in particular for her appearance.  They knew she was a friend who had agreed to do me a favor.

          Some years ago I had a local school board member out and he got a real education.  This was a class of honors 9th graders before we moved Government to 10th grade, and these kids were equivalent to my current AP students.  He made a passing reference to the 1st Amendment saying you could not shout fire in a crowded theater and every hand -  and I mean every hand - shot up.   He asked what was going on.  I suggested he ask one of the students, and when he did he was informed he was misquoting Justice Holmes in the Schenck case.  While my student did not exactly quote Holmes, who wrote

          The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.

          , he did note that the key part of the statement was the word "falsely" -  one would be creating a panic for no reason.

          There are politicians who visit schools.  They rarely just sit in on classes, so they do not really experience what we teachers experience.  Still, it is a start.  And if they are walking through a building where the roof leaks each time it rains, which is not all that uncommon, and in which they see 38 students crammed into an 18 x 30 foot trailer classroom (I have done that, and I have 36 seats and up to 34 students right now), they perhaps can begin to grasp how that just might impact the learning experience.

          do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

          by teacherken on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 10:15:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Voluntary State Curriculum (VSC) (0+ / 0-)

        The Voluntary State Curriculum (VSC) is the document that identifies the Maryland Content Standards and aligns them with the Maryland Assessment Program. The curriculum documents are formatted so that each begins with content standards or broad, measurable statements about what students should know and be able to do. Indicator statements provide the next level of specificity and begin to narrow the focus for teachers. Finally, the objectives provide teachers with very clear information about what specific learning should occur. When the objective is tested on the Maryland State Mathematics and Reading Assessments, it will be followed by an assessment limit.

        •  at hs level the tests are not really aligned (0+ / 0-)

          and have other problems as well.  We have had tests which were totally imbalanced across the subdomains, and which had questions that either had no correct answer or as phrased had more than one.

          And because they have been so panicked about the pass rate

          1. they seemed to have manipulated the conversion rate from raw score to scaled score - last year I had 126 of 129 students "pass" -  of that 126 10 failed all four quarters of my class
          1. they have eliminated all constructed responses for this May -  constructed responses are Brief (paragraph) and Extended (essay)
          1. there is no corrected on the selected response items (multiple choice questions) for guessing

          So the standards, the VSC and the assessment limits are all fine in theory, but the test results do not mean all that much.

          I am now out of touch with what is happening at 3-8.  And what I have described above is about Government, which while required for graduation does not affect AYP under NCLB.  But the Algebra and English 10 tests serve double duty, counting as Math and Reading under NCLB for HS AYP as well as being required for graduation.

          do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

          by teacherken on Sun Dec 14, 2008 at 03:10:31 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Best case of 15-18 months (8+ / 0-)

    before the economy recovers may still be too late for your high school seniors.  If they can't afford to go to college and they can't get a job, their options become very limited.  I feel like I can wait this thing out, but I do worry about the kids and their families.  Even though they have more time ahead of them to recover, many have fewer resources to draw on.

  •  fuure is unwritten, up to us to write a good one (10+ / 0-)
    You can answer it, help write a better future, help contribute new ideas, help make it better.

    I was in high school from 1981-1985, I don't need a fucking lecture about how shitty times were.  My dad lost his job in the '82 recession, he did odd jobs to keep the house, and guess what it was an adjustable rate mortgage, money was tight if there was any.  It sucked. Today sucks.  Let's redouble our efforts to make things better.

    Boycott Alabama to protest Richard Shelby's slanders against the workers of Michigan and the midwest.

    by gaspare on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 05:13:50 AM PST

    •  Reset (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dogemperor, kyril, George Gould

      I feel like we are in a video game that has gotten out of control and if we don't push the reset button things will go from bad to worse.

      But you are right, the future is up to us.  This is our opportunity to kck our addiction to oil.  This is our opportunity to have universal health insurance.  This is our opportunity to rebuild our urban areas.  Only when things get horifically bad can we break through with the bold initiatives that will secure the future for our kids and grandkids.

  •  They have other fears as well... (13+ / 0-)

    Thanks, Ken.

    About a year ago my son, then 12, asked if he was going to have to go to war, and his younger sister started crying.

    I am taking my boy, now 13, to the inauguration. We are first going to spend some time in NY, which will include a trip to ground zero. He told my wife the other day that he was worried that the plane would crash, or that our hotel would get bombed.

    And I know that my daughter fears that our environment is in irreversible decline. (I have the same fear)

  •  The lack of empathy towards other human (29+ / 0-)

    beings displayed by the Republicans who voted against the auto bailout, and the wealthy in general is so sociopathic it damn near borders on criminal insanity. I really don't understand how a normal person can sleep at night knowing how much cruelty and misery they are inflicting against so many others. If there is a God (not the so-called "god" of the religious right) I'm sure there is a particularly hot corner of hell waiting for those people.

    •  it is. (5+ / 0-)

      the tunnel vision and total lack of empathy is nothing short of pure mental illness in my opinion.  I have a number of brothers who are rethugs and I described the behavior and discussions one of them had the night before we were burying our mother to my cousin who is a psychiatrist (I had to leave the gathering and go hang outside in freezing detroit to escape the sick talk).  She said their topic of discussion had the majority of the key components of psychopaths....not sociopaths...but psychopaths.  She also said in her 30 years of experience those characteristics are almost untreatable particularly if they don't think they have a problem of any sort and they are high functioning adults in society.

      My cousin prefers treating drug addicts and what not because they are able to be helped.

      After 8 years of darkness, a great nation chose to reapply power to the beacon of light America stands for.

      by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 11:04:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  About that pitchfork: stick ourselves in the (8+ / 0-)


    This is America. Democracy. Al Gore said in a talk I attended last year that we still have the freedoms and means but we haven't made use of them.

    Since then we did do something with elections--peasants needed pitchforks to cause Change. We elected Obama and umpteen others.

    From decades of experience I can guarantee you that violence, mass street protests......counterproductive. At this point the reaction shouldn't be pitchforks so much as mocking laughter.

    Message to Republicans in Congress:
    Why Should Anybody Believe Anything You Say? Your Party Ran America into the Ground. Reputation in the Mud. Treasury Raided. Our Hard-Earned Tax Dollars Blown Away in the Sands of Iraq and Drown in Cesspools of Wall Street.

    Consistent effort, infiltrating, organizing, solidarity.....most effective.

    One big obstacle has been media monopoly, so please join this effort:

    and we should do less blogging and go write more Letters to Editors:

    Media Reform Action Link

    by LNK on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 05:19:37 AM PST

  •  If it's any consolation to the kids (23+ / 0-)

    (and all of us for that matter), the situation and prospects for the future would be unimaginable if McCain/Palin had won the election. That is a major point none of us should lose sight of.

    Yes we are going through rough times..very rough times, and I do believe they very well could get worse before they get better, but I see a lot of 'reaching out to others' when times get like this, so maybe it's not an entirely bad thing.  

    It's an absolute outrage and disgrace that anyone goes hungry in this country..but it has always been a disgrace. The fact that more people are affected doesn't make it less of a disgrace, it means more people are understanding what some folks have already dealt with or have been living with for a long time. A decent meal at school when a country throws billions into war and bailing out corporations should be a no-brainer -- does it have to take neighbor children crying in classrooms to make that happen?  Unfortunately, it seems it takes crises to move enough people to make changes that should have already happened.

    No one in this country should live in fear of losing their home. No one in this country should be living in a car. No one in this country should choose between health care and paying a light bill. No one should have to work 2 or 3 jobs to get food on the table or afford a quality education.  This didn't just start happening here. It's just affecting more people. That's the bad news, but the good news is, when more people are affected, more people are personally moved to get together and change things for all of us. And more people are moved to empathize with others and to come together to make each others' lives better. We shouldn't need to know what it's like to not have money for lunch or a field trip or how we're going to pay the rent in order to care that others do. But when we do, it tends to make us more caring human beings and also sparks some very creative ways of changing lifestyles that should probably have been changed.  A friend was saying that one of the good things about the economy is that people are getting together and making gifts for Xmas..doing without stuff nobody really needs anyway, and appreciating really important things.

    Whew. Ok, I really had to stretch to find a silver lining in the whole mess, but I think it's there and though I think it's going to be a rough going for awhile, I think we'll be better for it .. eventually.  My sister and brother and I sometime reminisce about some of our memories growing up (never on the streets, but close..lots..and other tough times) and we wonder how we made it through some of it and still have something resembling sanity.  We did. We just need to reach out and help each other through it.  We'll be fine.

    •  btw (24+ / 0-)

      teacherken, never EVER, entertain the thought of leaving your profession because you think you might not be helping.  Teachers like you are how I made it through some tough times growing up. You are helping them in ways you may never know.

      •  Someone asked me this week (8+ / 0-)

        in a context I cannot explain because of a confidentiality agreement, if my students knew how lucky they are.   I think in general most do.  I am far from a perfect teacher.  I care, and I try to make that clear to them.  

        But I do always have to weight if I may be doing more damage than good.  And were I to reach that conclusion, I would be gone in a heartbeat.

        do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

        by teacherken on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 05:30:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I agree. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mainefem, dogemperor, ladybug53, kyril

        It was my teachers who got me through my school years.  My parents were more harm than help during that time, for reasons I won't detail, and like a lot of kids I turned to my teachers to provide positive feedback and affirmation.

        Ironically, to 'thank' them I probably gave them far more hell than I did thanks.  On the other hand, I got them to laugh a lot, too....

        •  thinking teachers (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          teacherken, kyril
          I share a classroom with another special ed teacher who was a social worker and a tutor before she became a classroom teacher.  I was in medical sales before I became a long term sub and eventually a full time sped teacher.  We both knew the vulnerabilities of the economy.  We both worry about ever leaving our jobs because of the number of teachers being riffed.
          We both love our students and worry about our students and cry about the troubles of our students.  Yet we know how deeply our students are sucking every bit of energy and empathy and enthusiasm from us.  My colleague has an elementary school aged daughter. She often feels the pull, between her school kids and her home kid.   We sit, the two of us, and try to solve the problems of our universe. And we wonder if there is ever enough, if we can ever give enough?  Our culture is producing kids in need of sped like crazy.  Parents expect us to fix what is wrong with their kids, and to find them good jobs, and to get them to graduate.  Teachers don't walk on water. I have no magic wand.
          And I don't expect Obama to fix all this.
  •  Time for the churches to step up. (6+ / 0-)
    They need to walk up to the plate and cough up - suburban/exurban behemoths of conservatopia have been getting scandalous amounts of faith based money and tax deductible/exempt contributions for years.  Hundreds of billions.

    They need to make account for that by doling out without preachiness - otherwise, they need to be shamed and protested, the palaces of their clergy picketed.

  •  Excellent diary teacherken. (14+ / 0-)

    Heart wrenching, but nicely done.  My fear is that things won't get better anytime soon, and will likely get much worse.  

    If there is a silver lining, it may be that we might shake some of our 'disneyland/madison avenue' superficiality and form a more humane, genuine and sustainable culture and way of life.  The climate crisis demands that we do just that, and we have not been so inclined.  Maybe these difficult conditions will force our hand, and in the end something good will come of it all.  We can always hope.

    Thanks again for all you do ken.

    "The truth shall set you free - but first it'll piss you off." Gloria Steinem

    Iraq Moratorium

    by One Pissed Off Liberal on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 05:52:09 AM PST

  •  This could create a new generation (5+ / 0-)
    of Democrats if Obama and the Congress can avoid squabbling and actually get some things done over the next 8 years.

    "If the Goverment is a car setting out to give every one a ride to work, then for 40 years the Republicans have been puncturing the tires, pouring sand in the gas tank, stealing the distributor cap, and, whenever they can get their hands on the wheel, driving it straight into the nearest ditch and then, pointing to the wreckage as the tow truck backs up to it, saying, 'See, this proves that people were meant to walk.'
    And they do this so that they don't have to chip in on gas." - Lance Mannion

    "The liberties of our country, the freedoms of our civil Constitution are worth defending at all hazards; it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors. They purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood. It will bring a mark of everlasting infamy on the present generation - enlightened as it is - if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of designing men." -Samuel Adams

  •  "I'm opimistic, but not like you were." (27+ / 0-)

    That's what my 16-year-old daughter said to me a few days ago when we were discussing her future.  She is optimistic about her future, but not like she thinks I was ... in the sense of having a better material standard of living than my parents had.

    (As it happens, I didn't think I'd have a better standard of living than my parents, but that was for reasons not relevant to the conversation, so I didn't tell her.)

    "I think people will take better care of each other," she continued.  "I think we've had enough of war.  I think there will be fewer McDonalds and more cooking at home.  I think we'll have fewer cars and more trains and buses.  I think we'll watch less TV and talk to each other more.  We may have less stuff, but we'll enjoy it more.  That's what I think."

    I hope she's right.

  •  You don't have to have all the answers (9+ / 0-)

    .... you just have to show them that they will able to think about how to find their own answers in the type of world they will live in.

    Nobody knows "the answers" because they cannot foresee the future.

    Why should they struggle with the hard classes if they might not go to college....  that's easy, by the time they get to college the first year classes will just be an enhanced repeat of what they learned in H.S. anyway, so they can breeze thru them. So either way, they have that knowledge of how the systems of the world work in their heads.  They know they can adapt to learning and working in new situations. This makes them infinitely wiser, and more likely to survive and do well, than the frightened minority of people right now who base their decision making processes on base emotional reactions of "the sky is falling!"

    See how I have kept my sig line so far, as the unfortunate individual who is going to DC in January in this district is a class A fear mongering panderer who needs to be marginalized.

    "Toads of Glory, slugs of joy... as he trotted down the path before a dragon ate him"-Alex Hall/ Stop McClintock

    by AmericanRiverCanyon on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 06:08:56 AM PST

  •  Internet College. This may be the only way (5+ / 0-)

    to afford an education. I always thought that college would move in this direction but now it seems like Virtual Harvard is the only way anyone can get an education.

    I still just can't believe life as we knew it is over.

    •  No... (0+ / 0-)

      Can't do it. It might work for humanities, business, and the social sciences, but it's a disaster for math, science, and engineering. There's a reason why credible universities don't offer real online degrees in these fields. Real-time interaction with professors, lab facilities, and other students is crucial to developing a solid grasp of science and engineering.

      And yes, I know MIT offers its lectures in many courses online for free to all comers. You'll note that they do not offer credit. Embry-Riddle offers courses on military bases around the world, but its scientific and technical degrees are at its main campus only (and that limitation is not for lack of demand!) Some schools offer professional master's degrees in technical fields, but the master's is a different animal entirely from the bachelor's and much more amenable to self-study.

  •  I am a college professor... (15+ / 0-)

    in a private "expensive" university and I am seeing this reality not just with the wimp administrators who reduce budgets all around (except for the football program), but mostly in my students of color who are in this school on scholarship. they realize that many will not be able to stay in for next semester or next year... it affects everybody... i told one of my students yesterday when talking about the future as you did: "I don't know." and it was the most terrifying moment in a long time... i worked and voted for change because i have hope, and i still do BUT on the ground things are getting really hard... Thank you for sharing...

  •  I'm going to try to say this in a way that (8+ / 0-)

    doesn't sound trivial or silly .... It's my observation that people who are not used to being in need are in need these days. They are no more worthy than a family that is low income, but they seem to have some new shame at their change in circumstance. Even in San Francisco, where people have a high income.

    •  Another question (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dogemperor, wbr, kyril

      If you are in a white collar profession not related to infrastructure and you need a job, how will you be helped by Obama's economic renewal plans?

      Will you have to wait until the benefit trickles down to your segment of the workforce? Will Obama plans include putting analysts, mid level managers, young attorneys to work as well? What about higher level managers and attorneys who are experienced and older and have lost their jobs?

      •  Obama has said we are going to try things. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ksh01, mainefem, dogemperor, kyril

        I don't think that the infastructure plans we've heard are the only investments.

        Frankly, I think we need government investments in infastructure (including manufacturing), energy, education, and technology. We need to develop new technologies, overhaul energy industries, update manufacturing, and improve education and inject it with more funds - as these teacher diaries and the comments have noted, there are a variety of programs that could be done through the schools to help communities, and those could be paid for with Federal dollars, likely much less than the 700 billion for Wall Street.

        That, plus fixing the healthcare problem - which would help everyone: insured, uninsured, rich, poor, business owners, workers, etc - would be enough to begin to 'heal' the economy.

        It's going to be like chemo, though. Painful. We've got a cancer on our economy, and we need to attack it with all we've got before it gets terminal. And we may need to try things, and they might not all work... It's going to take time, energy, and a lot of world-class minds to fix this mess.

        In the meantime, we are going to need to renew our community support systems and the government's support measures. People are going to need assistance in meeting their basic needs; as the middle class becomes the lower class, I think people will finally begin to understand that "out of work" does not equal "lazy" and that "poor" does not equal "deserves to be." Or, at least, I hope.

      •  Lawyers could do mortgage (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ksh01, dogemperor, kyril, James Kresnik

        modification work.

  •  My kids' school district... (8+ / 0-)

    Last year 75% of the kids qualified for free/reduced lunch.  The figures released following this year's economic disaster should be fairly horrifying.

    Anecdotally, you can see a difference in the kids, and that includes my own.  Shoes have to last a little bit longer, kids go longer between haircuts, last year's book bag is back for round two.  

    We are all droogie6655321

    by Buckeye BattleCry on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 07:07:34 AM PST

  •  Friend, your words again hit home. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Terri, teacherken, dogemperor, Bronx59, kyril

    Hello from Greenbelt.

    "When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?"--Eleanor Roosevelt

    by KJC MD on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 07:17:12 AM PST

    •  yes, I teach in your local high school (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Terri, dogemperor, boofdah, Bronx59, kyril

      although obviously we draw kids from a wider area for our Science & Tech program, our foreign languages, our hearing assistance program, and our string music program.

      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 07:19:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Greenbelt, Maryland (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dogemperor, wbr, kyril

      Old Greenbelt was settled in 1937 as a public cooperative community in the New Deal Era. The concept was at the same time both eminently practical and idealistically utopian: the federal government would foster an "ideal" self-sufficient cooperative community that would also ease the pressing housing shortage near the nation's capital. Construction of the new town would also create jobs and thus help stimulate the national economic recovery following the Great Depression.

      Greenbelt, which provided affordable housing for federal government workers, was one of three "green" towns planned in 1935 by Rexford Guy Tugwell, head of the United States Resettlement Administration, under authority of the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act. (The two other green towns are Greendale, Wisconsin (near Milwaukee) and Greenhills, Ohio (near Cincinnati). A fourth green town, Roosevelt, New Jersey (originally called Homestead), was planned but was not fully developed on the same large scale as Greenbelt. Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, helped Tugwell lay out the town on a site that had formerly consisted largely of tobacco fields.

      •  Yes, I live in old Greenbelt (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        in one of the units of the cooperative. Moved here in June. It's a great neighborhood. Relatively affordable and diverse.

        We're hoping to adopt a child soon, and chose here with that in mind.

        The schools are one of the reasons to want to live here (especially Eleanor Roosevelt High).

        "When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?"--Eleanor Roosevelt

        by KJC MD on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 01:16:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I used to live there (0+ / 0-)

          Wonderful place. I graduated from ERHS, though unfortunately I didn't have the privilege of being one of teacherken's students (my little step-brother-in-law did though) :) It's an amazing school.

          Good luck with your adoption process! Depending on the age of the child, you may want to know that you should probably try to avoid Greenbelt Middle unless it's changed drastically for the better in the last ~15 years. The magnet programs elsewhere in the county are much better.

          •  hmm - you will have to give me his name (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I remember all of my students, although in this my 14th year it is beyond 2,000.  I have 185 right now, which is not my highest.  And before I came to ERHS when I taught at Kettering Middle I had only 4 classes at a time but kept them for only a semester and for two years that meant 8 classes with an average of 32 per class.  The third year I volunteered for special duty where I had two classes twice a day for the entire year, doing their English (whole year), and Reading and History (a semester each, but I melded the topics together for the whole year).

            do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

            by teacherken on Sun Dec 14, 2008 at 03:13:24 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  His name is Daniel (0+ / 0-)

              I prefer not to post last names without permission, but he was in your AP government class last year as a senior. Very quiet, nice kid, the sort that teachers love to have but don't necessarily notice.

              •  I do have an email in my profile (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                and you can use that - and if he is interested, he can contact me himself.  I almost always enjoy contact from former students.

                I do not have access to last year's student lists.  I can immediately think of three students named Daniel, but they were all sophomores.  I probably recall them because I see them around the building now that they are juniors.  


                do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

                by teacherken on Sun Dec 14, 2008 at 04:30:49 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  I teach, too. I can't promise them all is well (13+ / 0-)

    I've been around a LONG time, but haven't posted much in the past 18 months.  However, I teach 9th grade English in a school where the free/reduced lunch percentage is around 65%.

    I am not hopeless about the future... not by a long shot.  However, I also struggle to put on the brave face and tell the students that everything is going to be okay.  First off, everything is NOT okay, least of all for most of my students and their families.

    What I do try to emphasize, frequently, is that education still holds out more promise for long-term security, satisfaction, and personal growth than any other pursuit.  It's incredible how difficult it is for students to buy in to this line of belief, however.

    Perhaps one day this spring, I will tell them my story.  I had the good fortune to come from a family that that paid every dime of my college and graduate school tuition.  I worked in two professions for several years until last July, when my personal life came completely unraveled (a consequence of bad choices for which I take full responsibility).  I went from middle class security and respectability to moving back in with my parents for a time, going through a divorce, waiting tables for a living, and cutting ties with a line of work that, for many reasons, was just never going to be satisfying in any way.

    Now, I'm back on my feet, so to speak, barely.  I rent a very modest apartment and own a rental house on which I owe more than it's worth.  Most days, I enjoy my work as a teacher.  Next year, I'll be going back to graduate school to begin doctoral work.  I want my students to know that the support and unconditional love of family can get you through hard times.  But, for me, it was my education that ensured I would have a future.  As much as I lost in my time of crisis in terms of stability, sense of self, etc., there is one thing that no one could take away: education.

    Not that my future is a slam-dunk.  But I have opportunities and a chance at success and happiness largely because, for all I lost and gave up, I am an educated person.

    It's just very hard to help adolescents understand.  Especially when they nurture fantasies about becoming a celebrity, or else look for more lucrative options in the short term (dealing drugs, etc).

    I feel your frustration.  Thanks for sharing.

    -6.88, -6.72. The truth will set you free. But first it will piss you off.

    by Lucky Ducky on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 07:18:25 AM PST

    •  my father one of 6 kids of immigrant tailor (12+ / 0-)

      in Utica NY.  Five graduated from Cornell.  The brightest, my uncle Leslie, graduated from hs 1t 15, and eventually got his degree from a local school but his love was the outdoors.  He worked in the Post OFfice until he could retire and then ran a hunting and fishing camp.

      Two of my father's siblings, including one sister crippled by polio, got doctorates. He was ABD at Cornell in economics but never finished.

      My mother was the eldest from a mother who herself came to this country in 1906 as a refugee from Poland, fleeing pogroms.  

      My cousins and I all grew up comfortably middle class.  Since all of our parents, born between 1908 and 1925, graduated from college, we all expected that we would go to college. Many went to pretigious places:  me to Haverford, my sister to Sarah Lawrence, a number of cousins at Cornell, another at Amherst, and so on.  Our parents had lived through the Great Depression.

      Although my dad twice lost jobs, he had the skills and connections to reestablish himself as a successful independent consultant.  As an adult he never knew want.  

      Some of my students would be the first in their families to attend college.  A few will even be the first to graduate from high school, espcially some whose families came as refugees from war-torn countries where the disorder interfered with simple things like getting an education.  That is in part often why they came - for better opportunity, especially for their progeny.

      Perhaps that means the idea of a middle class life is something they do not assume is guaranteed?

      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 07:27:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm Sure You Provide Hope and Help. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dogemperor, ms badger, Ninepatch, kyril

    On reading your post, it occurred to me that what we must be teaching our students is the history of how other people, in other countries and ages, fought back against the inequities they faced.

    Perhaps your course in "Government" needs to be re-titled to "Creating an Effective Government" focusing on the movements for social change in the past which succeeded in ameliorating conditions such as we face today.

    The topic of economics could examine the way capitalism has inexorably led to our current crisis, examining other ideas for the economic organization of our society.

    The critical role of teachers today is to help students to learn to think critically and to join together to effect the social change we so desperately need.

    Organize and Fight Back! Join

    by Justina on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 07:26:35 AM PST

  •  The problem for young people is their... (9+ / 0-)

    lack of perspective which comes from experience.  

    I had an English teacher in junior high school who was a big fan of humorists such as Benchley and Thurber and I am grateful to this day for him introducing me to this art form.

    The thing I remember most that he taught me was that there is nothing new under the sun - that many others have gone through what you are now experiencing and lived to tell about it - and that no matter how sad or tragic or frightening your current situation is, at some point in the future you will find something about it at which you can laugh.  So you might as well start laughing right now.

    As I've experienced the vicissitudes of life, I've kept those thoughts in mind and have developed the ability to laugh at damned near anything.  Some people find this offensive but I view it as the greatest gift, other than life itself, I was ever given - and it was the gift of a teacher.

  •  That was a powerful lesson for us all. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dogemperor, Bronx59, kyril
    Our kids really only take in bits and pieces of what's going on in their own families and with their friends.  I often wonder if they really pay attention to the news outside of their groups.  In these tenacious times, we need to think more about them, taking them in and finding out what they are worried about.  I've noticed 3 suicides of kids around here in different schools of late.  These are very scarey times.
  •  Gift for teacherken: cartoon (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dogemperor, Bronx59, kyril, George Gould

    Speaking of fear......and redemption.

    Media Reform Action Link

    by LNK on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 07:32:27 AM PST

  •  When will it get better? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dogemperor, Eloise, kyril

    This morning on NPR there was an interview with Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics. Near the end he suggests that it may not get "better", that the past decade or so was abnormal and that we will all have to scale back our expectations.

    Visit the Cat Chat Group on the Kossacks Networking site.

    by Catte Nappe on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 07:34:04 AM PST

    •  He must've been addressing the other (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Terri, Catte Nappe, mainefem, dogemperor, kyril

      half boosted by the last 20 years of total imbalance.
      The lower half has been living an ongoing assault on expectations.  The subprime credit debacle was just a cynical bone of debt thrown the working poor's way before the final breakdown.

      No, it's been constant for over 20 years of welfare reform, union busting, health care, lower wages, wage based taxation, high housing costs, lousy public schools.

      So now that we all have to scale back expectations that simply means the working poor will have to proportionately retreat even further to add insult to injury.  The scaling back will fall on their backs once again.

  •  These kids are scared and being tested. (8+ / 0-)

    And, yet, through this they will find their own strengths. My kids never had much. They were secure, but not spoiled. With two kids in college, three in high school my husband was laid off. Moving was not an option. We had bought the house because the schools were some of the best in the state. We managed to hang onto the house until my youngest was a senior.
    Luckily, we were able to rent a house so she could graduate.

     We were all tested. Disappointed. But, it grounded my kids in reality. They have grown stronger. They will strive to make a life. They have pride in the fact that life was not handed to them on a silver platter.  

     I have great faith in the younger generation.

    You gave Obama a To Do List. What is your To DO List?

    by redtex on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 07:35:25 AM PST

    •  I do too (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mainefem, kyril, redtex

      (have great faith in the younger generation).  My daughter, besides working several jobs, paints and draws art and sells everything she does (that she wants to sell).  She has gotten contracted to paint particular items that wealthy folks in Portland, OR are interested in.  She sells paintings for as much as $700.  She did the illustrations for a published book when she was in high school while, at the same time, baby sat for Lou Gosset's girlfriend's kids.

      When she wants to get some money, she'll take paintings and lithographs and sells them at an artists flea market downtown.  She is usually cleaned out.  Its amazing.  She has t-shirt deals with local retailers that has her art on the shirts.

      She and her sister lived in poverty before I was in the picture.

      She married a man who is okay though a little brickheaded at times (who isn't) but his father is a long-time local radio celebrity and so my fear for their well-being is minimal thankfully.

      My sister is also an artist and has attained tremendous wealth and reputation in California.  I am so proud of her and hope our daughter can achieve similar success in her area of artistry.  It is such a difficult area to find success and our daughter has attained some of it against all odds.

      After 8 years of darkness, a great nation chose to reapply power to the beacon of light America stands for.

      by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 12:05:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I could fix this entire problem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in less than 2 months.


    Well in addition to the things Obama has discussed, I would initiate a tempoary suspension of both the employee and employer based payroll tax with 10% going to the employee and the rest benefitting the employer for a period of 5 years. This would in affect give everyone in the country a 10% raise which should be enough for them to service debt and continue consumption and perhaps even begin saving a bit. I would also get the CEO's of the biggest corporations in the country to agree to stop layoffs for a period of 2 years, and I would build in incentive for smaller businesses and corporations to keep people on board by refusing to allow any business to do business with state, local, federal government if they have laid anyone off after a certain date or something to that affect...

    We just need to think outside of the box in this, the only real way to get us out of this mess is to put real money in real peoples hands that will allow them to service debt and continue to consume...

    What we do for ourselves dies with us, what we do for others and the world remains and is immortal. (Albert Pine)

    by laughingriver on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 07:42:11 AM PST

  •  Fear its ownself... (6+ / 0-)

    The famous words of Roosevelt ring today more true than ever.  As a former HS science teacher I emphasized hope and grit and outreach for the future.  I told my kids that their generation will go to Mars.  We worked scenarios in class to make that possible.  The most important common factor was boldness, not fear.  

    In my opinion, fear like boredom is a product of laziness.  By that I mean if we are consciously aware of something bad going on, we need to actively do something about it.  If we are bored with something, it is our responsibility to do something that alleviates the boredom.

    In teaching government you have the golden opportunity to help train kids to think about how to prevent this fiasco from occurring in their lifetimes while they pay off this debt.  I have some ideas about that if you are interested.

    "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

    by dolfin66 on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 07:49:32 AM PST

    •  you are (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mainefem, kyril

      very correct.  I have felt that fear for sometime and was more afraid that if I did not do something pro-active, I was a sitting duck.  I did a bunch of research starting a few years ago that continues to this day and, as a result, while I hear coworkers getting so depressed about their 401k losses I sympathize but I have lost barely anything and am positioned to do just fine with the little that I have invested with the dark clouds ahead.

      It was terrifying for me to make the decisions I made a year ago and one of my brothers who has a finance degree pooh-poohed everything I told him.  He now tells me he has taken a zen-like view of his IRA's and other investments though he has suffered 40% losses.  Another sitting duck who will not be pro-active and do the work needed due to brainwashing by the investment soothe-sayers.

      After 8 years of darkness, a great nation chose to reapply power to the beacon of light America stands for.

      by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 12:54:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Henry Paulson (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        When you read this guy's resume you think he is the second coming of John Maynard Keanes.  Then he turns around and bails out his pals in the very institutions he helped f*** up.  It's guys like this that cause the rot that finished the Romans.  Maybe it's our turn, unless we do something about it.

        "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

        by dolfin66 on Sun Dec 14, 2008 at 08:53:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  why not also teach (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annan, mainefem, dogemperor, wbr, kyril, miss SPED

    how we managed to deal with crises in the past?  If you are scared, that is probably also coming across in your teaching.

    Bless you for all that you do. Now your students really, really need you.

    So, I think you might dig deep into yourself, and ask, "Where is there hope for us?"  (Think family, community, sharing, etc)  Think about that hard, and try to communicate that too.  Talk about bartering communities, the fact that our commercial economy is based on the natural economy, and what we can do to return to living closer to it.

    If folks think this is bad, wait 'til global warming really starts.  We are going to need to be tough and strong in the coming years.  This is a nice "pre-test."

    •  we cover approaches used in past crises (7+ / 0-)

      and I point out that FDR was the ultimate pragmatist, who kept trying things until finding some that worked at least somewhat

      yet in some ways what we confront now is somewhat more scary, and I cannot pretend otherwise.  For all our wealth as a nation, we may be far more economically exposed.

      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 08:07:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Economic version of Outward Bound? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mainefem, dogemperor, kyril

        Ken, I agree with Renee in CA.

        As I understand it, Outward Bound was born in England after WWII when career soldiers realized that older soldiers survived hardships when younger soldiers succumbed.

        They learned that the younger soldiers didn't have the internal resources to believe in their own ability to survive horrific circumstances. Hence, the Outward Bound experience of giving young men (and eventually young women) a controlled experience of hardship and survival.

        Perhaps that's what's needed here: an economic version of Outward Bound. Perhaps create economic survival games where students are empowered to create new economic models and play them out.

        Create a controlled experience of alternative economies where bartering and sharing common resources define a new reality for community survival.

        Ambitious yes, but it could also facilitate an amazing shift in their worldview and their belief in their own ability to change our shared economic reality. Sounds like good government to me!

        "Let us not look back to the past with anger, nor towards the future with fear, but look around with awareness." James Thurber

        by annan on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 09:26:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Education Costs (2+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    jxg, dogemperor
    Hidden by:

    College has become out of reach financially for most-unless they are willing to start their lives out of school chained to debt.
    I can see in my district cost of living raises for baby sitters, whoops, teachers, fueling the economic instability. I generally support unions, well , actually all unions except the teachers union. I see enough ineffective teachers that any debate about the evils of unions are instantly backed.

    I work with younger guys, high school graduates , who never read or heard of George Orwell , who go to interviews for jobs in tee shirts and who do not realize Congress is the House of Representatives and the Senate.
    The failures of education and the down turn in the economy lead me to ask when will teachers who care so much about the community and the future of our kids actually contribute by just keeping the same salary, not even a pay cut ?

    The belief that teachers in general care about kids is lost on me- I see the exact opposite . That should bother you, but I doubt it does-because you will get your contracted 3% raise at the expense of these kids you claim to care so much about.

    •  Clearly you have never read anything else (9+ / 0-)

      teacherken has written.

      I suggest you start.  Here you go:

      Your point about college is well-taken, but to speak to Ken like that is beyond disrespectful, and in fact, untrue.  Ken is the teacher we all wish we had had.

      My mother was a teacher, I have friends who are teachers, and I know my kids' teachers.  They all care.  Systems aren't people.  Administrators aren't teachers. Poverty affects everyone.

      And everyone will be making sacrifices in this economy, including teachers.

      Regardless of how you feel about the educational system in America, which clearly needs an enormous amount of work, you owe Ken an apology.

      •  OK where do I start (15+ / 0-)

        I am a career teacher in Oklahoma. I have never taught at a school with less than 70% on the free and reduced lunch program. Let me just state that you have no clue as to what you are talking about.Only in public education are results expected without the ability to control all the factors regarding production.

        Have you ever tried to interest an inner city teen in world history that hasn't seen their mother in a couple of weeks? How about trying to engage a rural Native American youth in the wonders of the constitution who's only two meals come from the school they attend? Folks, this has been going on in many counties in Oklahoma during the past 10 years.Yes, I am ashamed at our politics, as I am a democratic activist in our county in Indian country. Despite this, I cannot help but believe that this is going on in Mississippi, Kentucky, Arkansas and other states that rank at the bottom of the per capita income scale.  

        Now, in spite all the social and economic horror that I have seen my kids go through, last year our school's senior class accrued $1.2 million in college scholarships. There are success stories out there.

        I don't mean to incite fear here,but, this is an all hands on deck moment for our country. I don't think many of you understand what a duplication of the Great Depression would look like today. Between 1930 and 1934 roughly 10 % of our population was regarded as refugees. That is homeless, jobless and in transit to 'somewhere'. I am sorry teacherken for hijacking your diary. But having read the likes of the above response I just bristle at the notion.  By the way my "big raise" from last year was $300. I have easily spent that and more on my classes and my kids. With pride.      

        •  Amen, Coach Bill! (8+ / 0-)

          I easily spend my raise on stuff for my students.  Books, classroom materials, even supplies.

          It's called "providing enrichment"--and for kids with very poor backgrounds, it gives them the opportunity to experience things they wouldn't otherwise.

          Many of the books in my classroom come from my own purchases.  I buy many of my own basic work supplies, especially small things like notepads, shredder lubricant (a heavy-duty functioning shredder is crucial for the job I have, where I work with confidential documents--for many months I had to use a lighter home-duty shredder that I'd purchased myself until my shredder requisition went through--I teach special ed, so I have a lot of old stuff that needs to be burned or shredded), art supplies for the students, file folders...etc.

        •  Ok (0+ / 0-)

          Having grown up in the city I guess my first question is who are these kids who haven't seen their mothers in 'a couple weeks'? Which would lead to my next question, as a teacher aren't you obligated to report that?
          Possibly I am witnessing a different scenario-but it all I have to go on. For myself, I did what I had to do to get out of the city-crime, derelicts , fear all joined together to get me to move-well, all that and taxes.
          Contracts out here in the sub burbs provide a 4% cost of living increase for teachers-not based on performance , based on them showing up.
          Once again, I understand teaching is a job, maybe I resent the whole implication that it is being done out of care-ask teachers to just not get a raise one year (not even a pay cut) and the baby sitters are out in force, striking.
          I don't expect teachers to raise kids , and maybe for irresponsible parents thats the case, but it is not the rule. Maybe as the economy craps the bed  , and teachers lay claim to feeling for people and them losing their homes they could provide relief ?
          I have a different perspective-maybe some teachers outside of private schools are good, I have not personally seen that. I hear about sacrifice, I just never see it. All I hear about are the demands and the complaints.

          •  Of course you don't see it (6+ / 0-)

            The only time you notice the trash collector is when they don't pickup the garbage. As for the kids not seeing mom, you have never heard of kids being raised by aunts, grandmas, or other relatives. You are naive. There are people doing extraordinary things in the public school sector and no one ever hears about it. Probably for the same reason no one ever hears about good news on television newscasts, it doesn't sell. As for striking, I work in a non union school and without tenure. I will not get emotional here, but your response is typical of someone who has no idea about public education. I have already spent my raise and more on my kids. Now whether you believe that is your call, nonetheless, I will stay here in the trenches and try to make a difference. That is what most public school teachers do.  

            •  Now wait (0+ / 0-)

              The implication of "not seeing their mom for a couple weeks" was that the kids were raising themselves , not that they were being raised by other family members. Some people rely on family to raise their children, but that was not what was implied.
              People doing their job is extraordinary ? Look, once again, maybe my experience differs widely from ours. Good news, lets be honest-there is no news anymore-most of it is a commercial. Think back to the release of the I Phone (original and 3G) it was covered locally and nationally. Is that news ? A line for some moron to buy a phone. Maybe I wouldn't be so jaded if Mayor Street and School Officials weren't waiting in line to buy an $800 phone.
              Trenches? Really? Really ? It is that statement that exactly proves my point. It is also why I can never turn down even 15 minutes of overtime-because public school teachers think they are at war . Your not , you just feel like that because someone asked you to end your lunch on time

              •  I apologize (0+ / 0-)

                Maybe the lack of resources is the problem, I can not be 100% sure. Maybe it is the amount of money I pay in taxes and the amount of money I pay in tuition that bothers me. Maybe it is the school board meetings-maybe it is a whole host of things.
                I see parents complaining about misgivings of teachers and administrators at meetings, I see raises for teachers in a below average school district and my taxes going up. I don't see improvements in the quality of teaching.
                Maybe my experience is not the norm-but it sure feels like it.
                Maybe being in a school district that has investigators making sure kids on the bus are really from our district, maybe feeling like a conversation with a child from public school, Catholic School and non denominational private school shows me of the same age and grade level strengthens my point, BUT IT MAY JUST AS WELL PROVE YOURS. Maybe it is a combination of many factors.
                I apologize , When this time of year rolls around and I get my tuition bill, school taxes and I see the local morons who haven't been taught what red or green lights mean or a cross walk for that matter I get angry.

                I shouldn't paint every school district as if it is the one where I live. I apologize for pigeon holing every teacher and every district with the one I see.

                I hope that doesn't sound back handed, it isn't meant to be.  Maybe if a good teacher moved to our school district and I didn't have to pay school taxes and tuition I would calm down.

                •  Apology accepted (0+ / 0-)

                  I am not denying that there are bad schools or bad teachers or bad administrators. That would be specious on my part. Here is what I am trying to communicate, that there are a large majority of education professionals who really do fill an incredible array of roles in the modern American school system. Proxy parent, confessor, social worker; all are roles that I and others that I have worked with have filled.
                  I don't desire a pat on the back. What I was trying to get across and what I think others like teacherken is attempting to communicate is this. These stories should be seen as the 'canary in the coal mine' regarding the depth of the troubles confronting our country.  
                  Again, I work in Oklahoma because I love Oklahoma not because we rank 48th in teacher pay. I could move my family to any other state and easily bump my pay up 10-15%. The school I work at is a Native American school in far eastern Oklahoma. It is non-union and teachers have no tenure, relying on the school to renew contracts on a yearly basis. I don't work there because I have a messiah complex. I genuinely love our kids. It is hard to express those moments when you succeed with kids who never thought about being touched by American history, which is usually seen by students as dead presidents and dates.
                  Whether it is a Robert Frost poem or a class discussion of how the deflationary period of the 1890's closely mirrors our current problems seeing kids realize that there is a bigger world out there and become interested in it is the real reward of teaching.
                  I feel for you and the situation in your community. I am also making student loan payments for my graduate work at OU. I also pay property taxes and I and my family have scaled back our finances and spending. I am empathetic to your plight. But I also firmly believe that we as a people must come together ,now, and become the drivng force for true reform in our country. We can no longer afford the carnival con of divisive political games. The time is now. May you and yours have a happy holiday season.

          •  In case you didn't hear me: (4+ / 0-)

            Once again, I understand teaching is a job, maybe I resent the whole implication that it is being done out of care-ask teachers to just not get a raise one year (not even a pay cut) and the baby sitters are out in force, striking.

            In Orange County, FL, teachers haven't gotten a raise for 2 years (2 years with massive inflation, so yes, it WAS a pay cut). Probably won't get one next year either.

            They're still at work. Personally, I think it's a shame the union hasn't done something by now. I'm sure we're not the only county in the nation that's frozen teacher pay.

            If you think teachers are "babysitters," you obviously aren't interested in finding any good in the profession. Were your own teachers really that bad?

            Babysitters don't generally have to invest in the education, training, and research that it takes to earn any kind of teaching credential. Teaching is an extremely complex process.

            Of course teachers care about kids; why should that mean they have to have stagnant salaries? Should we ask all doctors and nurses to take a pay cut because they care about patients? Should we ask stores to give away free groceries because they care about whether or not neighborhood kids eat? It's ridiculous to state that because teachers want a fair, living wage they don't care about kids. The two aren't linked at all.

            Teacher salaries are exceedingly slim for all that teachers provide and for all the costs of becoming a teacher. Teacher education programs are generally quite costly, in terms of both time and money.

            •  I taught over in Polk County, Florida (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I spent around 350 a month on my 28K a year first year teacher salary on my students. I was teaching an ESE class when I was suppose to be teaching an Alpha class because the teacher walked out due to the stress of it. I had never taught before, I was there on a professional to the classroom certificate (we were going to try a theatre in the classroom technique on the Alpha's hence my BFA in Theatre was into play). I had no books, no teaching aides (for those who think an aide is a person, sadly I am not talking about that, I am talking about objects used to help students with learning problems.), no clue as to what I was doing. But I would be damned if these kids got punished for my lack of knowledge. I stayed up and researched, spent my check on supplies (since most of my class was migrant children who would transfer out after season.) I do have to say I did have some failures but my children that made it out weigh the failures. Yes I worry still about the others that I couldn't help make it. But I know I AND MY FELLOW TEACHERS AT THAT SCHOOL WERE NOT OVER PAID BABY SITTERS.

              I don't care what you do in your beds, just keep your hand out of my pocket.

              by the mom in the middle on Sun Dec 14, 2008 at 02:15:27 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  This is for you --it's from below (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dogemperor, kyril

      I'm linking it so you might actually read it.

    •  You mention college debt. (8+ / 0-)

      Teachers are often highly educated (since part of being a teacher means continued, life-long education, which is generally mandated by the states they work in - to keep your cert here, you have to complete coursework regularly). They at the very least have bachelor's degrees, many of which require them to work unpaid (during college) for a semester or a full year, accumulating more debt. Many of them have Masters degrees, a high percentage of the teaching workforce. Teachers are paying back student loans on a very slender salary, with little potential for salary growth in their lifetime.

      If you think teacher pay goes up by even 3% by year, you are insane. I actually think starting teacher pay is usually fine (here, it starts at $37K, which for the energy, education level, etc, seems fair to me, since it's around median salaries for college educated jobs) - the issue is that teacher raises are ludicrous. Every year, it's basically a few hundred dollars.

      Here, in Orange County, FL, teachers have not gotten their raises for two years and probably won't for at least one more year. That's scheduled raises, not additional raises. And it's for all teachers, including those who have gone above and beyond.

      If public education is a failure (and with all its problems, I still think education does a lot of good in this country), it is a failure because of policy. It is a failure because of a lack of resources and because emphasis is on incorrect methods, standards, and practices, which teachers cannot dictate. It is a failure from the top-down, not the bottom-up.

      Are there bad teachers? Sure. But they are few, far between, rare, and generally speaking, they aren't people who post diaries on liberal blogs...or, well, anywhere. (They're lazy.) Teachers, in general, do care about kids, and teacher unions do not protect ineffective teachers. That is a fallacy and belies your lack of understanding of how the teacher's union actually works.

      You clearly know nothing about education. Cutting teacher pay wouldn't help the economy one bit.

      •  Yes, there are bad teachers, (9+ / 0-)

        but there are also bad cops, and bad firefighters, and a shitload of bad politicians.

        And education is a two-way street; the best teacher in the world is going to have a tough time with a student who really doesn't want to be there, or a child who comes from another country and barely knows English, or a young person with undiagnosed learning disabilities or even just poor eyesight (it was one of my teachers who noticed me squinting to look at the chalkboard and told my parents that I needed glasses). Yet we expect the teachers to take the brunt of the blame when students fall short.

        "Once you choose hope, anything's possible." ~Christopher Reeve

        by Cali Scribe on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 09:47:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Right. That was my point. (4+ / 0-)

          I've met bad teachers, so I won't pretend they don't exist. I can tell you the traits they've all had in common: didn't want to teach regular students (wanted Honors/AP), cared more about content than students, didn't want to teach in "less fortunate" schools, and didn't want to do anything beyond the minimum.

          They are few, far between, and every one I've met in my life (I'm sure this isn't true 100% of the time) has not been in the teacher's union or complained about having to be a part of it if they were... ;) Which is what I find amusing when people complain about teachers' unions and incompetent teachers in the same breath...

          Anyway, I agree with you entirely. I didn't mean to imply there were loads of bad teachers.

          •  My oldest niece is a teacher (elementary) (6+ / 0-)

            and my youngest niece is currently getting her credential to teach middle/high school English. My oldest niece is one of the top teachers in her district -- she's like Ken in many ways in that she sets down the rules and enforces them, which means that she's not the most popular teacher amongst a certain population (mostly boys), but she's been teaching long enough that she has students coming back and thanking her for putting them on the right track. I think my youngest niece will be made of the same stuff; she's a pretty no-nonsense chick.

            Teaching isn't for everyone -- my oldest niece's husband actually started out as a high school English teacher and realized after 2 years that he could not handle it, so went into retail management and is doing very well. He got out before he became one of those "bad" teachers just marking time till retirement -- I'm proud of him for recognizing his limitations.

            "Once you choose hope, anything's possible." ~Christopher Reeve

            by Cali Scribe on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 10:17:53 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah, I TR'd that. (0+ / 0-)

      It's too stupid for rebuttal and too hateful to dignify.

      --- ZROMG! The New GOP found a new leader and animated him from the grave! "Zombie Reagan! Oh My God!"

      by opendna on Sun Dec 14, 2008 at 02:13:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you, teacherken. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mainefem, dogemperor, kyril

    We all need to know what's happening to our children.

    It's a scary, sad time.

  •  There are ways to.. (4+ / 0-)

    ...get them a decent future.

    1.  Tell them to stay out of consumer debt.
    1.  If some students are worried about college, tell them to go to community college.  There is some rigorous stuff going on in the academic departments and they can transfer easily to the state university if they do well. (I know because I teach there)
    1. Tell them "Don't marry until you are in the right financial/educational situation".  

    If you do 1,2 and 3, you can pretty much take the first job that comes along regardless of pay.  It's going to be OK but now more than ever, advantages are going to accrue to people who are very frugal.

    And AZphilosopher says "Save a bad country music act, vote Obama."

    by AZphilosopher on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 08:34:53 AM PST

    •  I would add "3a" ... (5+ / 0-)

      3a: No babies until you have secured the basic resources to care for them.


      "Let us not look back to the past with anger, nor towards the future with fear, but look around with awareness." James Thurber

      by annan on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 09:09:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  on this perhaps something relevant in Wash Post (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        annan, mainefem, dogemperor, kyril, Kharafina

        an op ed piece by Patrick Welsh, a long-time English teacher at T. C. Williams High School in Alexandria Virginia entitled They're Having Babies. Are We Helping?

        It very much speaks to the point you make.

        do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

        by teacherken on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 10:20:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Better to keep them in school than not, I think (0+ / 0-)

          If nothing else, out of a sense of basic fairness: teen fathers get to stay in school no matter what (unless they voluntarily drop out out of a misplaced sense of responsibility).

          I think there should be more effort to have the teen mothers like the one quoted in the article play an integral part in educating at-risk girls. But I can't agree at al with the subtext that we should withdraw the support services that allow these girls to graduate and have some chance of success in life. It's hard enough with all the supports in place - we don't need to make it harder on a group that's already struggling.

          •  not saying I agree with Patrick on this (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            (and no we have not met, although we know people in common and when I taught ethics and comparative religion in a synagogue confirmation class several of my students later became his), but I thought it was quite relevant to the comment to which it was posted in response.

            do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

            by teacherken on Sun Dec 14, 2008 at 03:17:24 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  I don't see how marriage factors in. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dogemperor, kyril

      It seems to me that getting married, and having two incomes, is a lot more financially sound...less chance your income ever becomes 0% with a layoff. (Not that one should marry for that reason.)

      Marriage doesn't cost much. Kids cost tons. And all the stuff people BUY when they get married...but marriage doesn't require a big wedding or buying lots of stuff. That's just silly consumer culture.

  •  I'm watching my kids (6+ / 0-)

    pretty closely.  Although we are a mostly middle class school, we do have some poorer kids and I'm making extra efforts to make sure that I don't assume that anyone has anything.  I'm careful about assignments that might require using the internet outside of school.  Some of my kids have never had a connection and I anticipate that many more will be losing theirs.

    It's difficult to teach under any circumstances but I'm not looking forward to dealing with the problems of kids who've never had to worry about anything.  Poor kids know to not even ask for some things.  My other kids are going to be learning some very hard lessons.  Hopefully, I can make it less painful for them by looking at my own expectations for assignments, projects, etc.

    -7.62, -7.28 "We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the peace." - Walter Mondale

    by luckylizard on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 08:47:34 AM PST

    •  I have seen some of this (6+ / 0-)

      thinking back - at the start of the year only one of my students did not have an internet connection at home.  Now I can think of at least 5 who on recent occasions have said they could not look at my web page from home because they didn't have an internet connection.

      I have had at least 4 times since the start of the year when I have gone to call a number at which I previously talked with a parent to have the number not in service.

      The signs were probably there all along, but until the unexpected experience of seeing all the nodding heads in that one class when I talked about food stamps, it probably had not registered with me.

      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 08:51:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  And what is probably even worse.... (6+ / 0-)
    is the fact that most of these children have never been taught to deal with the "stress" of not having what they need or want...Inner city children know the depth of "want"...this is where I live..I see the devastation each day...but the children of those who have lived a life of "well to do" are afraid. For a lot of them these "unknown times" of change within their family structure is frightening.....If you are not use to doing without,when hard times hit its alarming...and it is is always a sad day when ANY child is frightened by what is changing in their environment and (not too many) adults around them have answers to their questions...
  •  relevant to the study (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925, mainefem, dogemperor, kyril

    We have talked in detail about the aspects of the economic meltdown because it is relevant to the study of government.

    What?  You're discussing current events because they're relevant??  I've never heard of such a thing!

    Late in 2000, as the guy who won the presidential election was slowly squeezed out of the chance to actually govern, I would ask my son the same question every morning as I drove him to high school:  "So, are you discussing the election in any of your classes?"  Y'see, I figured an actual historical event was playing out right in front of us that some enterprising teacher might want to make use of it.  Silly me.  The answer was always "no."  And this was at one of the best high schools in Los Angeles.

    I don't know how helpful this is to your students - or anyone else - but we have an incoming president who, I would be willing to bet, is as scared as any of us.  Ultimately, that may be what makes the difference.  It will certainly be an improvement over a president who can't be bothered to take notice of the welfare of the majority of the citizens of this country.  

    "I'm not negative - I'm ANGRY!" -- Howard the Duck

    by Roddy McCorley on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 09:03:16 AM PST

  •  Ask not. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mainefem, dogemperor, kyril

    Hearing about your kids, I'm reminded of what high school was like in the early '70s.  The economy was not good, my mom was supporting 3 kids on 3 jobs.  We struggled and it was tough.  But I believe it taught me how to survive in tough times, and how to be prepared for when things head downhill.

    The diary also reminded me of John Kennedy's "ask not" speech.  This is probably a good time to dig that out and let our young people think about what will be their place in helping to bring about a better future.

    "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country."

  •  Dealing with stress: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mainefem, dogemperor, kyril

    It does no good to protect children by keeping them ignorant of the cold facts -- they are going to inherit a world that we have screwed up and they need to be prepared for it.

    It is vital that we also teach them how to deal with stress.

    When children fret over the doom & gloom coming from their environment, their perceptions can be far worse than actuality.  If no one is helping them to understand solutions, then the terror can destroy their ability to get through their days.

    Investigate! Impeach! Indict! Incarcerate!

    by Cato come back on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 09:17:03 AM PST

  •  I remember (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mainefem, dogemperor, kyril

    being in high school during the 2000 election debacle and discussing the whole thing in our history class and how angry it made my friend and I (and this was before we were really political).

    I can't imagine how angry - rightfully so - those kids must be getting at their own government now.

    If God hadn't wanted us to fly, he wouldn't have given us Bernoulli's Principle.

    by HamillianActor on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 09:27:02 AM PST

  •  When tough times loom (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dogemperor, kyril

    as they have regularly for assorted populations around the world, that's the time for both hard work and for compassion.  

    Along with stories about the hardships of  America's "Great Depression", are many of remarkable kindness and individual courage.  Instill your students with the idea that they can and will survive even the hardest of times.  Lately I've been thinking of this song:

    Look To The People
    (Ruth Pelham)

    We're gonna look to the people for courage
    In the hard times coming ahead
    We're gonna sing and shout
    We're gonna work it out
    In the hard times coming ahead

    We're gonna look to the people for wisdom
    In the hard times coming ahead
    We're gonna sing and shout
    We're gonna work it out
    In the hard times coming ahead

    With people's courage (3x)
    We can make it

    We're gonna look to the people for justice
    In the hard times coming ahead
    We're gonna sing and shout
    We're gonna work it out
    In the hard times coming ahead

    We're gonna look to the people to struggle
    In the hard times coming ahead
    We're gonna sing and shout
    We're gonna work it out
    In the hard times coming ahead

    With people's courage (3x)
    We can make it

    We're gonna look to the people for laughter
    In the hard times coming ahead
    We're gonna sing and shout
    We're gonna work it out
    In the hard times coming ahead

    We're gonna look to the people for loving
    In the hard times coming ahead
    We're gonna sing and shout
    We're gonna work it out
    In the hard times coming ahead

    With people's courage (3x)
    We can make it

    We're gonna look to the people for courage
    In the hard times coming ahead
    We're gonna sing and shout
    We're gonna work it out
    In the hard times coming ahead

    With people's courage (3x)
    We can make it

    (as sung by Guy & Candie Carawan)

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 09:31:04 AM PST

  •  Talk about the alphabet soup programs (5+ / 0-)

    I find comfort reading about all that FDR did in his administration.  I realize it took WWII to finally end the Great Depression, but things got a lot better for many people when FDR started the WPA, REA, etc.  Students don't need guarantees.  They need hope.  And I don't think it is false hope to talk about th programs started during the Great Depression.  

    And the infrastructure achievements were lasting.  We got electricity to our home from the REA.  All of a sudden there were no more kerosene lamps in our house, You could actually see into every corner of the shabby rooms from florescent ceiling lights when the sun went down.  

    I might add as I walk down sidewalks and bridges in the small town in Montana where I used to live, I can still see by the dates etched in the concrete that the bridges that have carried so many feet and cars for all the decades in between were the outcome of those public works projects

    Obama is familiar with the new book on FDR's first 100 days.  Maybe I'd have my students keep an eye on Obama's first 100 days and try to project what the results of new programs might be for the future you have told them we all have.

  •  I wonder if I should stop teaching? (6+ / 0-)

    I wonder if I should stop teaching, so that I do not exacerbate their fears?

    Do you think for one solid minute that ignoring this and them having no one to talk to about this will calm their fears or make them less?

    You can give hope with out lying to them.  That is one thing that we must find, even though the last 8 years have wrung the hope out of us.

    This nation was put into this shape by people who did not care what their grades where, who were not smart and who extolled the supposed virtue of not being honest and curious and willing to learn, no matter what it meant to the view that they held - they did not want to be challenged to change them.

    Their grades and their intellectual success matter because in the long run THEY will be the ones who pull this through. THEY will need to be the gate keepers to make sure that this NEVER happens again.

    They, we, may have to struggle for a while.  Two of my own kids are looking at the tea leaves now and opting for the military (against my wishes) because they are so very scared of the economy and they see it as their only way to survive and finish college.

    But it will be their turn soon enough.  Will they have the intellectual background, the critical thinking skills, the commitment to end the Republican race to the bottom without the hope brought to them by one (or more) teacher?

    I think not.

    Power concedes nothing- F.D. * Find out what any people will quietly submit to and you'll know the exact measure of injustice which will be imposed upon them.

    by Clytemnestra on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 09:53:42 AM PST

  •  Obama named a new HUD Secretary today (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Shaun Donovan, from NY City.  He's good.  Let's hope a good housing plan is on the way!

    Ken - I live in Arlington as well.  All I can say is this - keep up the great work.

  •  when you sow the wind you reap the whirlwind (6+ / 0-)

    The meltdown the US is experiencing is precisely what the United States Congress, CIA, and various other govt & govt related agencies (ie Federal Reserve bank system, IMF, World Bank) intentionally sought to bring about in nation after nation over the years since the end of WWII.

    The meltdown the US is experiencing is precisely the intent of the Kyl-Lieberman amendment:  the goal of that bill was, in the (paraphrased) words of Ed Royce R-CA, "to so destabilize Iran's financial system so that the Iranian economy will fail, the people will riot and topple their government."  (will the American people riot? see here

    If you want a real-world example of how inflation in consumer prices follows an increase in the money supply AND how an increase in anti-social, war-like behavior follows increases in prices, then a report from is just what you are looking for. It says, "Iran's annual inflation may accelerate to 50% if a plan to introduce cash payments for the poor is implemented, Sarmayeh reported, citing a parliamentary deputy."

    So, if they introduce cash payments by increasing the money supply, prices will soon go up, and people will begin starving because prices are so high, making people riot. But if the government does not introduce cash payments for the poor, then the people will riot right now because they are starving since prices are already high! Hahahaha! An interesting choice!

    I started out with a gallows humor laugh like that because I am sure that we all need a good laugh, as Federal Reserve Credit, which Barron's calls Total Fed Credit, was down a massive $85 billion last week, which is a simply staggering sum, although it is a long, long way from the $10 billion per month that Alan Greenspan was jamming into the banks since 1997 that created all the inflations and bubbles and weird economic distortions that we have.


    In a speech before AIPAC in June 2008, Ephraim Sneh said, (once again, paraphrased), "nukes are not the problem in Iran; the problem is the regime.  The Iranian people are too weak to topple it, so we must.  We must force the regime to confront the starvation of its 70 million people."

    I find both of these statements of LEGISLATIVE policy and of policy intent -- to deliberately attempt to destroy another country economically because you don't like them, or to deliberately cause them to fear starvation. to be reprehensible beyond my ability to express.  

    What have we come to, how low have we sunk that we seek to induce the fear of starvation in the minds of 70 million innocent civilians, so that we can work our will with their economies?

    We should have listened to Jeremiah (who was a prophet, you will recall) Wright's words when they were just a warning -- "God damn America."  Because now the karmic wheel has turned and America will suffer in deed what she has visited on others. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you; The Golden Rule is sorta like the law of gravity: deny it and you will plunge over the cliff.  

    My children, and Teacherken's students don't deserve the travail they are about to experience.  I did everything I could to draw attention to its coming and to try to push back against this ineluctible judgment from what Jefferson called "Nature's god."  

    rage rage rage

    •  What 'America' has visited on others (3+ / 0-)

      is SOP for our and the international ruling class. But this is not a karmic payback on us. Nope. It's that these parasites have now turned their attention to us deliberately.

      As I was being called an America Hater, a Commie and sundry other bizarre and inapplicable epithets for warning that what was being done in our name overseas was as much rehearsal for what would be eventually done to us, the Plutocrats launched their twisted plans.

      There really was only one thing in the way of the International Fascist Conspiracy (and yes this is what this is) and that was a free, prosperous and informed America. That's being taken care of right now.

      The only question remaining is will Americans wake up from their deception, stop fighting with each other and recognize the real enemy? My bet is on NO. We are incapable of it, the Plutocrats have made sure of it and like sheep to the slaughter, we go quietly into the void of serfdom.

      "Much law, but little justice": Proverb

      by Dave925 on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 11:31:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  what they mean (3+ / 0-)

      by 'regime' change is they don't want Iran to exchange oil only for Euro's like Hussein was trying to do...its all about the moneychangers.

      After 8 years of darkness, a great nation chose to reapply power to the beacon of light America stands for.

      by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 12:58:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  indeedy. remember Clarion Fund: (3+ / 0-)

        the organization that produced and distributed in newspapers the Obsession dvd?

        Here's what's at the center of their beef with Islam:

        10. How is sharia applied to banking and finance laws?

        Islamic banking and finance is a rapidly expanding industry that seeks to harmonize modern business practices and traditional religious norms. Classical sharia prohibits riba, the charging of interest. It also condemns excessive profits and requires Muslims to invest only in ventures that are consistent with Islamic principles; for example, investing in a brewery or casino is forbidden. The Islamic finance industry, with estimated assets of $200 billion to $300 billion, represents a small chunk of the global marketplace, but is "already playing a significant role in the financial systems in the Middle East," said John B. Taylor, U.S. under secretary of the Treasury, in a 2004 address. Some Muslim countries, including Malaysia, are making an effort to issue national bonds that comply with sharia principles. And in 2002, eight Muslim countries--Malaysia, Indonesia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Sudan, Bahrain, and Kuwait--launched a new organization, the Services Board Islamic Financial, to set common standards for Islamic banking.

        Clarion Fund is run/owned by the same people who sponsor this  . outreach/website, which claims to have 200,000 plus members.  

        •  indeedy squared (3+ / 0-)

          the contrarian investor articles I read frequently reference what is going on in muslim financial markets and the principles they abide by as you mention above.

          The contrarians, as I am, also point out that with the wall street slap down of the commodities exchange which brought high prices to oil (to $147/bl) and now down to around $47, the oil producing nations are not too happy about it.  This price destruction, though was entirely fraudulent to begin with IMHO (speculative only, not demand driven despite what MSM people said ad infinitum) has pissed off these nations as it has disrupted their local markets and infrastructure stuff severely.

          They are opening a gold ETF in Dubai which, in effect, would enable them to divy up some payback to wall street and the COMEX for all their machinations.  I have invested accordingly in anticipation of the payback.

          After 8 years of darkness, a great nation chose to reapply power to the beacon of light America stands for.

          by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 01:47:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  My mother paid for my education. (7+ / 0-)

    When I suggested at some point after I was of driving age that I wanted a car - like my friends were getting in the world that I lived in - she said that she didn't have the money to help me with that kind of expense because she was paying for my college education.

    But the really important thing that she said was, "I am giving you an education because unlike a car no one can take that away from you."

    She was right.  At the time, being very interested in a car, I tried to think of all the ways someone could take my brain away from me, but I gave it up because even then deep down I understood that she was right.  It didn't hurt that the one car my family owned at the time was an eight year old Toyota station wagon in which the headliners was falling down, the seats were collapsing at points and it had probably 150,000 miles on it at that point.  I had an example of the fleeting value of a car - lol

    So in these uncertain times, teacherken, it is my view that you're probably giving your kids one of the most valuable and lasting gems that will serve them well no matter how horrible a financial crisis we go through in the coming future.  We can't make it "alright", but we can help.  Teaching kids to think, problem-solve and understand the world around them will make it a bit easier.

  •  Chickens come home (6+ / 0-)

    Ken, here we are, and the chickens of the 60s have finally come home to roost.

    I'm about your age, and we can well recall the divide in the country when we were in college. The US was trying to decide between two modes of conducting itself internally and in the world.

    Unfortunately, the other side, the one that was content to let there be haves and have nots, the one that thought war was a tool for economics, the one that believed you could never have enough power or consumption, that side, over several decades, "won."

    And now we reap the consequences of their hollow victory, don't we.

    I'm not as comfortable as you are, Ken. We own a small business that employs three people. We have had bad hits on even conservative investments for retirement; we worked in the"defined contribution" world so we have no pension guarantees.  And our house, which we had planned to downsize out of in the next couple of years, has lost value and we seem to be stuck in it for now as we look forward to property taxes rising. So, much of that we earned and saved is now gone.

    Like you, we will survive, but we have been hurt, and it's a crime that the people responsible for this disaster will never pay.

  •  We'd like to help (6+ / 0-)

    At the risk of looking like a terrible blogwhore, here...

    Some fellow Kossacks and I are working on the KINship Project (Kossacks In Need) and we've already had some success stories.  I posted a diary this morning with a history of the project and a call for anyone who needs help or would like to help to contact us .

    Kossacks In Need: Stand Up and Be Counted

    We're having some fantastic success, already, and we'd like to help more Kossacks, if we can.

  •  To Answer Your Students' Questions (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean, Spekkio, kyril

    One answer will serve. Sorry, kid, you're screwed. The Plutocracy is terrified of you and your folks having some money, owning property, participating in a real democracy- so your family must be pauperized and any future you had?

    Forget it.

    It's very important a handful of people own and run everything in America and y'all are in the way, see?

    It's for your own good. So they say.

    "Much law, but little justice": Proverb

    by Dave925 on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 11:14:18 AM PST

  •  Public education is too big to fail. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, paxpdx, wbr, fhcec, kyril

    What's the most important thing in our society to protect and serve?  Where does the future begin?  How do we start economic recovery and change?

    Public education is the most visible and comprehensive government program; it is being dismantled and sold for parts.

    by algebrateacher on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 11:17:26 AM PST

    •  That's an excellent diary (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wbr, kyril

      and well worth the read.  Best wishes to you and your colleagues as you deal with the California budget issues!

    •  there are solutions (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      the first one would be to put the derivatives death star into receivership and sort the good from the bad...there is no political will to do so that I can detect.  Those financial weapons of mass destruction as Buffet put it, are the root source of counterparty risk and the financial armageddon.  The banks and various other entities leveraged themselves out 40 to 1 or more in the interest of risk free profits in the short term.  In mathematical terms it is: (((stupidity + greed + deregulation))/(sqrt(lack of historical knowledge -1)))**6 = financial nuke turned on

      After 8 years of darkness, a great nation chose to reapply power to the beacon of light America stands for.

      by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 01:07:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just to add my two cents, teacherken (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, wbr, miss SPED

    I think it's perfectly ok that you don't have the answers right now to reassure these worried teenagers.  I see the same fears in many adults who post here on DailyKos who aren't real "economically literate" and I've felt that same worry and even guilt that I couldn't help assuage their fears.  I think what is most important and helpful right now is to simply assure those who are fearful that we are all in this together---nobody is going to go it alone.  And, as one of the most important values Barack Obama has verbalized, i.e.   "I am my brother's keeper--- I am my sister's keeper"----I think that's what is going to go a long way towards getting us through the coming months and even years.  One can't deny the reality to these kids and adults that the economic future for this entire country is scary, but we can let people know that we'll help them and that they must help others.   And they need to know that we WILL get through this if we have good, strong leadership (which I feel  confident about coming from Obama---wish I could say the same about those in Congress, however) and if we take care of each other.  We will all be called upon to adapt and to change to different circumstances than we probably thought we'd face.  But we can do this.  We need to keep our eyes open to become aware of those who are in need and we need to think creatively for how to solve these problems so that we can truly help others.  Just my two cents---and people can feel free to disagree or disregard what I've written.

  •  ok, I've got to play devil's advocate here (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mainefem, 3goldens, 207wickedgood, berrieh

    I know there are a lot of people hurting through no fault of their own, but there must be a portion of personal responbility here.  How is it that middle class families have no savings to fall back on?  

    We're solidly middle class and have wondered for years how our neighbors could drive new SUVs, buy every kid a cell phone and an IPOD, take a vacation EVERY spring break, etc.  We looked around, and at our finances, and kept thinking, what are we doing wrong?  How do so many have so much when we know they cannot be making more money than we are?

    Now, I'm not trying to be sanctimonious, and I will probably be slammed, but the only way some of those people could have lived that way was on equity, on credit and by making bad choices.

    I don't want anybody to be hurting, and both of thse rec'd diaries have me in tears, but I also think there is separation between those hurting from bad choices, and those hurting for things that they couldn't control.  And everyone who is hurting has to take a good look at themselves to see which category they should be in.

    Slam away.

    Mr. Bush, we'll be forever in your debt.

    by k8dd8d on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 11:29:05 AM PST

    •  I wouldn't slam you at all (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean, k8dd8d

      and, in fact, would agree with you that there has been a sort of "false prosperity" that has existed in the U.S. for too many years.  People have made in many instances really poor choices regarding their finances.

      However, I'd also like to point out that the actual wages of U.S. workers have not kept up with inflation for a long period of time.  Corporations have NOT shared their wealth with their workers as they have with their management people and their board of directors.  Instead, we had people who bought into the idea of living on credit---and more credit---and MORE credit until now that the bottom is dropping out, they're being forced to face reality:  using credit is borrowing against your future.  

      Allan Greenspan did not help matters either by driving the Federal Funds rate down to 1% and holding it there FAR longer than it should have been held there----and since many mortgages, home-equity loans, and car and credit card loans are tied to the Fed. Funds rate, it made it real easy for people to borrow at low interest rates.  Once the Federal Reserve began taking those rates up, however---we were at 5% not that long ago----people with Adjustable Rate mortgages or home-equity loans suddenly got a dose of reality:  when the interest rate your ARM is tied to RISES, you better have extra money on hand to help you make that increased monthly payment.  

      I would also say that I think it's almost criminal that too many people today do not know the basics of consumer finance and yet they're out there signing off on loans, grabbing credit cards and all that goes along with that and they're clueless about what they're actually tying themselves up with.  

      We need, as a nation, to get back to living within our means.  For too long too many people haven't understood what that means.  They're either finding out now, or will be shortly, precisely what that means.  

    •  My mom would agree 100% with you. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      churchylafemme, mainefem, k8dd8d

      And it's what she taught me.

      I do have a car loan (the car broke down, and had to buy a new one) and a student loan (grad school only - undergraduate was pay-as-you-go and scholarships), but no credit card debt. I'm a rarity as far as twentysomethings go, and I feel like my debt is massive sometimes.

      My mom just paid off the house, she and my stepfather own 2 cars free and clear, and they pour at least 10% of each paycheck into savings. Of course, my Mom WAS poor and lived with the uncertainty of being laid off anytime... so, she learned these values early.

      Our society has some wacky ideas about debt, and we need to get our acts together. Still, middle class KIDS shouldn't be paying for their parent's mistakes. Neither should poor KIDS be paying for their parent's misfortune.

      I'm not interested in "finger pointing" as long as we can all learn the lessons needed to move forward.

  •  I know the feeling i am scared too (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mainefem, 3goldens, ladybug53

    If it only lasts 6 months for some students the over spoiled parents give them everything it will be a great learning experience to see life doesn't always come that easy.

    My step daughter learned that a few years ago when mom divorced husband with money who she was only married to a few years so from dating and marriage used to having lots of cash around and not married long enough to get anything but half the bills.

    My step daughter went from kid who got everything to normal struggling starving college kid. We can only afford to help pay tuition and thats it.

    For first time...god forbid she had to get job, not for fun and party money but to omg pay the bills and eat!!

    We actually get along better now as i didn't spoil my girls being a single mom with no child support.

  •  Current Events in perspective (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'd suggest mapping current events in an historical sense.


    Historical unemployment rates

    Plot out all data ... it becomes easy to see that these rates fluctuate ... up & down, the peaks in the 60, 70s, 80 & 90s are following by dips ... we are going through nothing new here, as far as unemployment rates.

    It is very easy to get sucked into the doom & gloom the 24 hour news climate produces ... after all "if it bleeds it leads" can ring true on a bleeding economy too.

    Put it in perspective & you may quell some fear.

    Libertarian all the way!

    by DBW21 on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 01:07:12 PM PST

    •  Let's see -- (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean
      1. Did any of the previous increases in unemployment correspond with a complete freezing up of credit, the bankruptcy of half the corporate world, and the collapse in value of trillions of dollars in suspect "securities"?
      1. Did any of the previous increases in unemployment correspond with current levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, or with the present-day rates of global oil depletion?

      Yeah, I thought so.  Something new is indeed happening.

      "It all makes perfect sense/ Expressed in dollars and cents/ Pounds, shillings and pence" -- global anthem, from Roger Waters' song "Perfect Sense"

      by Cassiodorus on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 03:08:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually ... similar factors (0+ / 0-)

        The causes for the historical spikes are not unlike the current climate.

        The early 1980s spike was directly related to the energy crisis of the late '70s & the banking collapses in the first few years of the 80s... not sure if you are old enough to remember the gas lines of of the '70 .. odd\even plates days? Remember those?  How about the billion dollar bailouts of the Illinois Bank & Trust, the S&L industry, etc.  Energy & Financial crisis ... the cause of that spke -- Hmmmm .... sound familiar?

        Also, the collapse of the housing market in the late 80s was a direct cause of the peak unemployment rates in the early 90s .... I bought a condo in '87 for $55k .. it was worth $20k by '92, lots of people were foreclosed on & many institutions which leveraged real estate got hammered.

        Hmmm ... the peaks of the early 2000s were a direct result of the .com bust..  I remember getting hooked on a cute little sock puppet hawking pet supplies ... in a few short years, that stock was worth zero & the company closed its doors (along with many, many others).

        So, both of your "new" conditions are not really very "new" as historical causes of unemployment.

        Libertarian all the way!

        by DBW21 on Sun Dec 14, 2008 at 04:06:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not persuasive -- (0+ / 0-)

          I am old enough to remember the energy crisis of 1973-1974 (including "late '70s").  That was a political matter, not a matter of objective supply.  Peak oil, coming soon if not already here, was a distant project back in '73.  Seen any gas lines recently?  (And I might add that the Saudis were recently the target of numerous requests to increase production -- and oil remained at its $4.50/gallon price regardless.  The Saudis may be on "our side" now, but their fields have probably already hit peak production.  Recent price collapses are the product of the evaporation of buying power, not of increases in supply.)

          And, yeah, maybe there were a few housing price declines here and there in the early '90s -- but the state of total consumer indebtedness in '92 was nowhere near what it is now.

          "It all makes perfect sense/ Expressed in dollars and cents/ Pounds, shillings and pence" -- global anthem, from Roger Waters' song "Perfect Sense"

          by Cassiodorus on Sun Dec 14, 2008 at 07:10:41 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  What I think is going to happen: (0+ / 0-)
    1. The massive downturn will continue.  World-society will disintegrate.  The "leadership" will continue to press obsolete solutions.  There will at some point be several "shake-ups," since obsolete thinking will predominate until those with meaningful ideas can be heard.  Meanwhile there will be a great rush to establish community self-sufficiency.
    1. Eventually a constituency will be established behind what Saral Sarkar calls "eco-socialism."  It will come from within the Democratic Party but I do not know if it will be of the Democratic Party.

    Beyond that I cannot predict.

    "It all makes perfect sense/ Expressed in dollars and cents/ Pounds, shillings and pence" -- global anthem, from Roger Waters' song "Perfect Sense"

    by Cassiodorus on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 03:06:06 PM PST

  •  What is there to say at this point. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ferallike, Spekkio

    This country has become so focused on its fears, it's no longer a question of whether someone is afraid, but what it is they are afraid of this week.

  •  Yeah. I hear you. I often don't know what to say (7+ / 0-)

    to my government kids, either.  When we discuss the economy and current events, I find myself saying things like, "Well, it's supposed to work this way, but right now .... well, it's not."  So, I frequently find myself doing more learning and exploring with them as a co-learner.  Which is actually a good thing in terms of modeling life-long learning and self-directed learning skills.

    I do encourage them with the vision of the great challenges and role they will get to play in terms of helping our nation move to a whole new energy reality.

    But in this meantime we are facing, I guess we just need to BE with them when they need us the most and stay flexible and sensible to whatever those needs might be.  

    I do know one thing.  Your students will be far better off with you in their lives as we move through this uncertain future than they would be without you.  :)  

    "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they were amazed at Him. Mark 12:17

    by bkamr on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 03:26:53 PM PST

    •  you got that right: (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mainefem, boofdah, wbr, Cassiodorus

      So, I frequently find myself doing more learning and exploring with them as a co-learner.  Which is actually a good thing in terms of modeling life-long learning and self-directed learning skills.


      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 04:03:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  In the years after our recovery from the Great (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mainefem, ferallike

    Depression, we enjoyed what Paul Krugman called the Great Compression of wages as the difference between the salaries of the workers and the owners/managers shrank.  The decades of the fifties and the sixties were ones of growing prosperity and progress as we exploited our national resources, which are greater than our oil and gas reserves.

    A lot of the compression in wages was due to the wage caps implemented during WWII, but some was also due to the job that the unions had done in protecting the American worker.

    I used to fear that with our loss of manufacturing we would lose our ability to recover from another depression due to global competition.  However, watching the international spread of the current crisis, I am starting to feel more optimistic that  we may be able to come out of this depression by retooling our economic base, if we can do it without creating another bubble.  

    Hopefully the students that you are teaching today will become the leaders of our resurgence as an industrial power that practices some equity in its structure and profits.

    Piffle crack eat monkey snow. Really. Leonard Pitts, Miami Herald

    by Susan Grigsby on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 04:14:33 PM PST

  •  Facing the unknown.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and that's where we are right now.  And fear is widespread, not only among the young.

    All societies, all governments, are predicated on a stable economy.  It doesn't have to be a fair economy, it can have elite and untouchables...but stability...knowing what to expect is the universal requirement.

    There are several mega trends that few are discussing.

    The very nature of human labor is being replaced by automation, while we have an economic model that expects a good economy to include full employment.

    And globalism always has been, and always will be a race to the bottom to find the cheapest labor, for the jobs that still require this archaic means of production.

    So, while capitalism has been the most efficient and successful underpinning for modern economies,  it is being tested at a time when the alternative, socialism, has been relegated to the intellectual margins.

    We don't have a model to even consider a restructuring of global economic this would be the ultimate in loss of stability, something that has always been required.

    So, students are scared, and only the best teachers, or pundits, can acknowledge that the answers may be quite troubling, and difficult to achieve.

    And while this diary is largely without partisan bias, it is too easy to blame this only on the current Bush Administration.  Ironically, a good portion of Obama's economic team helped shape the deregulation, and globalism, that could be at the root of todays crisis.

    But it could be that the blame belongs to both no one and everyone.   It is resides in that ultimate villain....History itself.

  •  As FDR said (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The only thing to fear is fear itself. We will all get through this, and we will be a better country because of it. The economic downturn already brought us President Obama. It will work out.

    Impossible is nothing

    by DrSpike on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 05:07:53 PM PST

    •  I wish I felt better about the near term, but (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mainefem, ferallike

      I'm still pretty upset from how the week ended at my school.  I hate, hate, hate to see my kids hurt and scared.  And sadly, I do think there will be more of this, perhaps a lot more, before things begin to work out.

      Thanks for your optimism, though.  I do agree that we need to face down fear and show some courage.

      "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they were amazed at Him. Mark 12:17

      by bkamr on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 05:19:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My husband's and my foster kids are FRL... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, mainefem, fhcec, Libby Shaw

    ...because they are in the foster-care system and qualify for FRL meals. No shame in that, because in our county, students all enter their "lunch number" for payment, so there is virtually no way (unless they were to outright tell their classmates or teachers) that others could know that they are FRL. They punch in their lunch numbers electronically, and only the cashier can see (and is not allowed to acknowledge publicly) each student's FRL (or not) status.

    We are in the process of adopting our children; thus, their FRL status will be cut off, and we will have to pay for their lunches out-of-pocket. That is fine, because the computerized system treats all kids the same--they will keep their same lunch numbers (which serve as student IDs) throughout their school careers, so we will just pay the monthly lunch fee for them to continue to eat at school, rather than for me to pack their lunches (as I did previously) and for them not to eat them.

    I can't remember how many times they'd bring home their lunch boxes with my carefully-prepared sandwiches, fruit, applesauce packs, spoons, etc. for them NOT to eat anything. Obviously, they can't stand Mom's cookin', so the kids' case manager told us, well, they qualify for the FRL program, so they would probably much prefer the hot lunch that the school preferred. Fine with me, and it is also fine with me that I pay a nominal monthly fee after adoption to ensure that they are getting a good lunch.

    Teacherken, I'm not sure if I've said this before, but even though I am an atheist, I truly believe that you, bkamr, and your fellow teachers are doing "God's work"--such intellectually and emotionally taxing work for such little pay, and for benefits that will show themselves a generation from now. You are preparing our country's future inheritors for the world that they will occupy, raise families of their own, and perhaps someday lead. Bless you (in any way that you may interpret "blessing" of the highest order). :)

    The media image of a "center-right" U.S. is a myth and a joke.

    by boofdah on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 05:57:34 PM PST

    •  I try to operate on the Quaker principle (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      boofdah, LamontCranston, berrieh

      offered by George Fox:

      This is the word of the Lord God to you all, a charge to you all in the presence of the living God; be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come; that your life and conduct may preach among all sorts of people, and to them. Then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone; whereby in them you may be a blessing, and make the witness of God in them to bless you; then to the Lord God you shall be a sweet savor, and a blessing.

      you will especially note what I have put into bold

      I don't know whether or not I believe in God at this point.  I do, however, remember the words of 1 John 21:

      Those who say, "I love God," and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.

       And I know that in Orthodox theology, with its use of icons, that the truest icon of God is the human being before you.  

      So whether or not I believe in God does not matter.  And I am not making Pascal's wager.  I am simply trying in some way to be, as Fox put it, "a sweet savor, and a blessing."


      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 06:09:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Given your post above: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        This is the word of the Lord God to you all, a charge to you all in the presence of the living God; be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come; that your life and conduct may preach among all sorts of people, and to them. Then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone; whereby in them you may be a blessing, and make the witness of God in them to bless you; then to the Lord God you shall be a sweet savor, and a blessing.


        I don't know whether or not I believe in God at this point.  I do, however, remember the words of 1 John 21:

        Those who say, "I love God," and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.

        That, from what I have learned about and through Christianity over the years, is the most truly and genuinely exemplary Christian principle imaginable. You "walk the talk," by your words, AND your vocation. Good on you, and all Peace's best. :)

        The media image of a "center-right" U.S. is a myth and a joke.

        by boofdah on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 06:12:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I really like the Quakers and try to go to (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        meeting houses for services when I'm back East.  I just love their traditions of silent services and querying.  It's a wonderful way to raise children.  I also admire the tradition of non-violence.  

        "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they were amazed at Him. Mark 12:17

        by bkamr on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 06:56:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  "....the truest icon of God, (0+ / 0-)

        is the human being before you."

        Being of an Eastern Orthodox raised background, I have heard this stated before, and through my over 50 plus years of life, have found this idea expressed in many other faiths/beliefs as well.

        Do not be afraid Ken, as it is an emotion that can drain the very strength required from you to see clearly the path ahead, and act correctly with confidence through the tough times.  

        This is what you must demonstrate to those who listen, and look up to you in your position in life of influence, and instruction: But you must believe in this concept first, and foremost.

        "..The paper holds their folded faces to the floor, and every day the paper boy brings more...." - Pink Floyd

        by LamontCranston on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 07:14:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The flip side (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I had some fantastic teachers in high school, including an 11th-grade history teacher who'd play a version of "Jeopardy" in class every Friday. Everyone loved his class.

    Unfortunately, the one time I reached out to a teacher because of problems at home, it backfired on me. My mother was an alcoholic who would go on occasional drunken rampages at home late at night, and I was often late to my first-period class because of lack of sleep the night before. When the 1st-period teacher questioned me, I finally told her what was going on at home. She then called my mother, and my mother basically said I was making it up and that she wasn't the problem -- I was.

    The next day in class, the teacher pulled me aside to tell me about the conversation she had with my mom, and when I tried to defend myself, she told me the story of a student who had it much worse than I did and still managed to get to school on time AND make straight As.

    I took the lesson with me well into adulthood. It took years for me to tell anyone except my husband and closest friends about what I had experienced at home.

  •  This is becoming the norm (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, mainefem

    as opposed to the exception.

    We may feel pinched, because we may have to help out family members who are not so secure, and we do not have much margin.

    I suspect the pressure is going to become enormous on wage earners to help out extended family in the dark months ahead.

    I can only imagine the physical and emotional toll this is going to take on folks.  

    All  can say is brace yourselves and try to ride out the storm.

  •  We are all scared (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Even though I still have a job, I fear I may lose it. I worry about my daughter graduating from college next week with no job offers and no more health isurance. Another daughter in college and more tuition payments. I find the serenty prayer helps me focus on things I CAN do...
       "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot   change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference"

    I try to take some control over the things I turning down the heat, packing my lunches, using coupons, etc., so at least I feel like I have some power over events even if so many other things are spinning out of control

    And I try to always have something to look forward to. I am taking the bus to DC next month to witness with my son, daughter-in-law and grandson as President Obama takes the oath of office.

    "DC...the chocolate city with the marshmallow center and graham cracker crust of corruption" - Stephen Colbert

    by foxsmartchicago on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 08:04:32 PM PST

    •  about insurance after graduation, we (0+ / 0-)

      found out the alumni group at our sons school offers grad med insurance and some other more substantial inurance options. The grad med was about $749 with a 500 deductible, they gave us three options. Its a 6 month policy but if you have a claim they won't renew it. So its basically a last resort policy. But he is heathy and hasn't used it yet. The alumni grp offered lonnger term underwritten policies(group) that required more details and cost a lot more. But it was better than nothing.

      CA diabetic school kids in danger due to recent court decision.Shame on the ANA,CNA,CSNO. Info

      by foggycity on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 10:35:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am reminded... (0+ / 0-)

    Of a prayer that sits on the wall of my minister's office.

    "Lord, grant me this:

    The strength to change the things that I can in the world,
    The patience to endure the things I cannot change, and
    The wisdom to know the difference."

    Things may be rough now, but if we fall into despair, things will seem all the worse.

    •  a variant of The Serenity Prayer (0+ / 0-)

      that was popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous and often used by other 12-step groups.   It is usually attributed to the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, and in its complete form looks like this:

      God grant me the serenity
      to accept the things I cannot change;
      courage to change the things I can;
      and wisdom to know the difference.

      Living one day at a time;
      Enjoying one moment at a time;
      Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
      Taking, as He did, this sinful world
      as it is, not as I would have it;
      Trusting that He will make all things right
      if I surrender to His Will;
      That I may be reasonably happy in this life
      and supremely happy with Him
      Forever in the next.


      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Sun Dec 14, 2008 at 03:20:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  teacherken I know how hard this economic crisis (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is on children. The younger the child, the less they feel in control, and despite the whispering behind their backs; the more they feel somehow responsible.
    Childhood used to be a time when children did not have to think about adult things like where they are going to live tomorrow or what happens when the lights don't come on when you turn the switch "ON". All that teachers can do is try to provide a small respite from the world outside in the classroom. The economy is the new bully and he is threatening us all.

  •  generally food isn't wanted in the classrm, but (0+ / 0-)

    I think I would consider a basket of energy bars or some fruit  or anything nutritios for the students to share. If there was a monetary gift or some way to keep that around.

    CA diabetic school kids in danger due to recent court decision.Shame on the ANA,CNA,CSNO. Info

    by foggycity on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 09:48:04 PM PST

    •  have to be careful in mine - (0+ / 0-)

      I am in an outside temporary.  We have wasps in the attic that they cannot seem to exterminate (and I and some students are at risk from them).  It is not hard for mice and rats to get inside. And students often leave wrappers and crumbs.

      I will very occasionally give them a treat.  But for the most part I cannot allow them to eat or to drink anything except water because of the risks it poses.

      That said, I do encourage them to pack a snack that they can eat on the way to my class, then place any remains in the wastebaskets by the door, which get emptied every day.

      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Sun Dec 14, 2008 at 03:22:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I understand. Just thinking about putting (0+ / 0-)

        some food in a few empty bellies. Feeling sad for the little ones especially.

        CA diabetic school kids in danger due to recent court decision.Shame on the ANA,CNA,CSNO. Info

        by foggycity on Sun Dec 14, 2008 at 10:32:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  They have good reason to be afraid (0+ / 0-)

    By February we should have a better idea of whether this is going to take a couple of years to get out of, or whether it will be a decade, and even then we'll still be heading downhill.  Frickin' Reaganomic trickle-down deregulated lunacy.  

    Just like Thom Hartmann said:

    "When Reagan came into office we were the largest exporter of manufacturing goods and the largest importer of raw materials on the planet. And, the largest creditor—more people owed us money than anybody else in the world. Now, just 28 years later, we’re the largest importer of finished goods, manufactured goods; the largest exporter of raw materials—which is kind of the definition of a third-world nation—and we’re the most in-debt of any country in the world."

    Would they let you teach that?

  •  Advertisement makes the children (0+ / 0-)

    want so much, then their parents are frustrated because they need to be careful with their money.

    My daughter lived in Germany and they didn't advertise for children at that time.  Her kids didn't bug her for toys.

    Some countries limit how much advertising businesses can do, especially toward children.

  •  Whatever these students can or cannot (0+ / 0-)

    transfer with them to another school, or whether or not they can get to college immediately, no one can take what they learn away from them.  Perhaps they are not all ready to appreciate that, but some must be. They are fortunate to have you teaching them!

    And if you tried to sugercoat things and tell them that this would all blow over immediately, I have no doubt most of them would see right through it. This will be their generation's challenge, to learn from our mistakes, and help us try to set things up better for the next generation.

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