You won’t see anymore posts in the category of “Life at the Junior High.” I’ve quit working at the junior high and have moved on to bigger and better things. I’ll still be posting away on other things that I find interesting, so feel free to keep reading and learning new things.
For the past few months at work, one of my coworkers has been complaining about the lack of answer keys from teachers. Now, those who work in special education normally get an answer key to worksheets and homework assignments. This is so that, should a special education para educator or teacher not know the answer to a question, they can refer to the key in an effort to help the special education student complete their assignment.
Given all this, at my place of employment, there is a mix of teacher keys and keys that the paras made themselves. If a teacher forgets to give me a key, I usually make one of my own. This is because I know and understand the information being taught. Occasionally, I need help with an answer, but the teachers are more than accommodating in pretty much every situation.
Now, however, things are changing. The school is starting to clamp down on what, exactly, the law says. For me, I can see that the school has to follow the law, particularly with IEPs, but when I already know the information or already have my own key, I often forget to ask for keys to the new stuff. On tests and quizzes, I’ve never asked for a key because I know the answers. If a student’s IEP states that their choices get reduced from four questions to two, I can easily do it.
Where we run into problems, apparently, is with one particular coworker. This person has been in the district for eleven years yet, unexplainedly, still doesn’t know the information. Admittedly, when I first arrived at the junior high, I was shaky on Life Science. Since I had to help the special education students, I paid attention in the classroom, did the worksheets with the students, thus making my own keys, and filled in the gaps in my knowledge along the way. After my first year, I remembered about 90% of the information. After four years at the junior high, I have a small handful of questions, spread throughout the entire school year that I need to ask.
After eleven years, this particular para still does not understand the information being taught to the 7th and 8th graders. While I used to find this surprising, it is now just sad that a person can sit in an educational setting and learn absolutely nothing, year after year. This person also refuses to sit in any regular math class because it’s, “so above me,” as well as stating that they will never sit in one particular science class because, “that teacher is a bitch and we don’t see eye to eye.”
My line of thinking is that you’re hired to do a job. You don’t get to pick who you work with or what classes you will or will not go to. So, I am the defacto para for math classes that are not special education, working with that one particular science teacher, and the exploration classes (computers, art, shop, fcs) because they are too far to walk to and, according to some, the special education students “don’t need our help there.” I guess that’s what I get for being too smart and being willing to actually work. Plus, aside from the careers class, I like the exploration classes and the Pre-Algebra and Algebra I classes.
I try not to think too much about the next school year as that is stress I do not need right now. I’ve already resigned myself to getting shafted next year and thinking, once again, about work elsewhere. I just hate the thought of packing up and moving to another city again.
As I spoke with my coworkers today about the Boston Bombers, I got into a heated argument with them over motive. I attempted to point out that we shouldn’t make any conclusions about the two young men being Muslim until we know if that had anything to do with their motives. I immediately had to listen to a coworker tell me that it wasn’t right for them to come here and blow our stuff and our people up. Another coworker said it was wrong for them to kill little children.
While I agreed with them that it is wrong to kill anyone, for any reason, I mentioned the fact that, on the same day as the bombing in Boston, 75 people were killed and 350 injured in attacks in Iraq. While my two coworkers agreed that it, too, was wrong, one reiterated that it didn’t justify “them” coming to American and killing Americans.
“Why not?” I asked. To me, I can see where citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan would want revenge for what the United States did to their country, including the millions that we’ve killed. The United States has clearly made people hate them since their continued involvement overseas since 2001.
“Because we never did anything to them,” my coworker replied.
“We destroyed their country,” I replied.
“Yeah, okay,” piped in my other coworker, “but that doesn’t mean they have to come here and kill little children.”
“Do you really think that they were thinking about how many small children they were going to kill when they set out on this? The US, too, has killed thousands of innocent children in Iraq and Afghanistan,” I said, hoping still to introduce some logic.
“No, they probably weren’t. But, man, I think we might have to watch out for you. You really hate America.” With that, coworker #2 left. My first coworker, who readily admits not knowing anything about history or current events decides to keep going.
“I’m not going to argue with you, but “they” have no right coming to this country and killing Americans.” My mind was boggled by the fact that this coworker could not see the fact that the United States has gone to other countries for ten years or more and done the same thing.
“You do realize that they’ve been here for ten years and, mostly, fit in. So something happened in the last couple of years to make them become who they are now.”
“Yeah because them Muslims prey on lonely people and he was Muslim. He shouldn’t come here and do this.”
“But we don’t know yet if his religion had anything to do with it.”
“They probably did. You know how they are. They hate us.”
“And why do you think they hate us? We destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan for no good reason and continue killing innocent people today.”
“Then they should go back to Iraq and not kill us innocent Americans.”
“They weren’t from Iraq. They were from Chechnya.”
“Same thing. They’re all close by each other.” Yes, I face palmed at this comment by my coworker. Grozny, Chechnya is 1808km (1123.4 miles) and a 25 hour car ride to Baghdad, Iraq. It is 3,444km (2140 miles) and a 43 hour car ride between Grozny, Chechnya and Kabul, Afghanistan. So, no, they are not even close to each other.
“No really, they’re not. And they are angry about the United States’ constant meddling in the Middle East.”
“Well, they asked us to come to Iraq and Afghanistan and help them.”
“They did not.”
“Yeah they did.”
“No one asked us for help with anything.”
“Yes, they did. And these boys are connected to it. But I’m not arguing anymore with you. You’ve got too many radical ideas.” And with that, my coworker left me shaking my head as to why I even attempted to discuss the entire situation.
So, there you have it. I have radical ideas because I try to inject some rational thought, logic, and understanding into a conversation. I try not to jump to conclusions and not make any decisions until all the facts are in. Unfortunately, the people I work with prefer to believe America is the greatest country on Earth and does nothing wrong. This is why they will never be able to understand why anyone would want to kill Americans and why they will never be able to step back and see the other side’s view. When you can’t do that, you will never be able to understand international relations or other cultures. Because of this, they will never be able to begin building bridges towards peace.
For the record, 2,996 civilians and 19 hijackers were killed on 9/11. Estimated deaths in Iraq through 2012 are over 100,000. Civilian casualties in Afghanistan to date is about 21,690, which is considered an underestimate. These are casualties only and don’t include the injured, only the dead. I wonder when it will be worth it. How many Iraqis and Afghanistanis equal one American?
I’m not a coach. I don’t have a desire to be one. If I was one, however, I’d be very concerned about what the Gering Public Schools is considering. At their board meeting on Monday night, the school district will be debating not only whether or not to start drug testing their student athletes, but also their coaches.
Gering Superintendent Don Hague says the school board will discuss a proposed random drug testing policy when they meet Monday evening. The board has had preliminary talks about the idea, which initially was being considered just for students in extra-curricular activities. Hague says there will be some discussion about including coaches in the random testing as well.
There is no need to drug test the coaches. They are not competing in athletic events and it is a basic violation of their privacy rights. Under The Constitution, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty and you are also given the protection from unwarranted search and seizure.
In essence, drug testing is a form of employment discrimination. You are eliminating an entire group of people from possible employment simply because they stand up for their rights and say they will not be tested. In 1997, by an 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court agreed in the case of Chandler v. Miller that a Georgia law forcing state employees to take drug tests constituted an unreasonable search.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the majority, said that the drug testing was an unreasonable search. The state can impose drug tests in exceptional cases, when there is a public-safety need for them (as with bus and train operators, for instance). But the Fourth Amendment does not allow the state to diminish “personal privacy for a symbol’s sake,” the court said.
I have been working for Gering Public Schools for five years. If I was a coach, I’d step down from my position and refuse to be tested if such a policy was implemented. If they force such a policy upon all school staff I would refuse, citing Chandler v. Miller, and immediately start looking for a constitutional lawyer.