Sunday, June 28, 2009

Economic Shock Therapy-California Style

Yesterday I was reading the LA Times about the budget crisis in California and it just makes me sick. The particular article that I was reading discussed the fact that the governator readily admits that he is basically looking forward to cleaning house and "reforming the system" (i.e., cutting social services, education funding, cal grants for higher education, etc.). It's sickening and disgusting to me. 

This whole situation reminds me of Naomi Klein's book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. If you haven't read the book already, then you definitely should read it sometime soon. Klein summarizes the ways in which governments and corporations use fear, panic and disasters to push through free market theories and/or dismantle liberal economic policies. Klein calls this process "economic shock therapy", similar to the disorientation and disequilibrium caused by shock therapy given to mentally ill and tortured prisoners. 

This is exactly what is going on in California. "They" are going use this opportunity to cut the social services that they have always hated. It's also another reason for them to beat up immigrants, people of color and people who live in poverty.  

Check out this excellent video by Al Jazeera,  "Fault Lines-California Failed State":

Part One 

Part Two

Those jackasses Jon and Ken over at am640 can kiss my ass. I'd bet that the majority of people are receiving social services are citizens. Every brown person is not an "illegal alien", assholes. Over 80% of students who are identified as language minority students in the public school system were born here. 

P.S. Yeah, so is the government going to bail us out too? They sure bailed out all the men who caused half of all this shit storm. 

Monday, June 22, 2009

In Desperate Search of Competence

Somewhere in the world there is probably a itty bitty violin playing a sad, sad tune for me. I just came home from work and my head is pounding out of frustration. 

What is my newest frustration, you ask? Well, quite frankly I am sick and tired of working for people who are less competent than me. Sick and damn tired. 

The education system breeds a pathologic culture of mediocrity and incompetence. It's the type of profession where you can pretty much suck at your job and still make $100,000 in some places as a manager. Or you can mess up kids' lives and not do what you are supposed to do (i.e., teach) and still bring home a better than average pay check each month. I can't blame the teachers though, because the managers are the ones who should be responsible for weeding out the shitty teachers. Yet how can they get rid of bad teachers when they are idiots themselves? I keep sticking around in the system out of some idealistic idea that I am making a positive impact on the lives of children in the community that I was born, raised and where I still live.

When I was a teacher I worked for a horrible manager. When I moved out of the classroom, I worked for someone who at the time I thought was very competent but who I later found out was just a master at creating an illusion. Now I have a manager who I wouldn't necessarily go as far to say is completely incompetent, but I don't necessarily view him as a high performer. I see him as someone who can't multitask, doesn't have the indepth knowledge required for his position and who drags his feet because he is a scaredy cat who doesn't want to rock the boat. 

I am getting sick and tired of climbing up the management chain and having people above me who are less competent. I look everywhere for mentors who can teach me how to excel in my career. I am tired of busting my ass all day long doing work that I think my boss should be responsible for but he doesn't know how to do. I am tired of doing all the work and then the people above me stand up there and get all the recognition. It's not that I need the recognition or anything, but it is starting to get irritating that I am the little burra who is doing all the work.

It's like I am dying to work for a really high performer who I really respect. I feel a little bit sad that I am so young and I don't really have any in my profession who I look up to. I feel demoralized that I have more admiration and respect for one of my kick ass female subordinates than I do for many of my superiors. 

I am tired of people having higher expectations for me than they do for other people. It has always been this way. I am expected to work harder, carry a heavier load and take more shit than other people. In one way it is a compliment that my superiors think so highly of me, but in another way it is frustrating.

Let me give you an example:

I have been kicking ass creating, writing and conducting staff development trainings for years. Just recently one of my colleagues in the department who is my equal has taken on a five day training that was created by someone else. She goes on and on about how draining the training is, how much energy it is, how she has to study for hours and hours, etc. My boss does backflips giving her public kudos about what a great job she is doing. I take a look at the training and I KNOW that I could do the damn training with minimal preparation and while standing on my head. 

Over the past few months, I actually wrote and created a seven-day training that was approved by the state. I created it from scratch, unlike my colleague being handed a manual provided by someone else. All the while I was writing the training and training my trainers who would provide the training, I was also writing three grants, the district policy (a very large document), conducting multiple staff development, taking over two extra departments....The list can go on and on. And how does my boss react? "Have you done this yet? Why is this not done?"

It's like the more that I do, the more they expect from me. I brought this to their attention today that I feel that they have higher expectations for me than they do for other people. They say that I am a high performer and can get the work done, and that they can't tell if they are dumping too much on me. 

I'm not the insecure type of person who needs to be patted on their back for everything I do. But I am finding it hard to control myself from puking in front of everyone when someone who is my equal is getting a metaphorical gold trophy for doing something that I could probably do with my eyes closed. 

For the past two weeks, I am beginning to question whether I should leave the institution and just work for myself. I just want to surround myself with other kick-ass high performing, creating and amazing people. I'm afraid that I will end up doing consulting and will have to deal with some dumb ass incompetent fools also. I'm beyond exhausted with all this damn mediocrity. 

Yesterday my boyfriend told me that I because I am the one who is controlling all the money, the policy, the procedures, etc that I actually have a lot of power in the institution. I suppose I could look at it that my boss is just nothing but a puppet and I am pulling the strings. I guess that in one way I am able to get my way with anything I want. Maybe I'm singing myself a sad little tune today because I am exhausted. 

I always strive to be the best that I can be. If anyone has any reading suggestions or ideas for dealing with incompetent bosses, please leave a comment. Ciao

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Single "Temptress"? Puke.

Today I went to work after I had been off for two days on a much needed mini-vacation. I had to attend a pseudo graduation ceremony for parents who had graduated from adult school. A couple of months ago, a male parent complained to our school board about a certain program in our adult school and because the situation has been volatile we have had to micromanage the situation with increasing our presence at some of the adult school events.

About two months ago, the father came in to meet with my boss and I about the issue. Throughout the entire meeting, he was extremely flirtatious with me in front of my boss and actually asked me out on a date. My boss is a male and it made him very uncomfortable. The father continued to call and call until my boss finally told me that he was going to pass off the problem to one of my male colleagues. 

I usually would slap the hell out of the man and put him in his place, but I was kindly asked by people above me (who have been very good to me) to please control myself and not kick him in the shins over his behavior. So I kept my mouth shut.

Today I attended the graduation with my male boss and three of my male colleagues. I ran into the father who had complained. As we were leaving, the father came up to me and shook my hand. Then, he said, "Oh, I really like the way you look without your suit jacket. That shirt really accentuates your nice breasts".  I thought that no one had heard him and I didn't want to cause a scene by chewing him out in public, so I just stared at him and walked off.

When we got to the car, I told my boss what he had said and lo and behold the jackass told me that he had heard what the man said and he didn't know what to do. I told him that I am not going to turn the other cheek the next time that the man says something like that, so he better tell his superiors to expect that I might give the man a possible bitch slapping one of these days. 

You won't believe what my boss told me. He said, "Well, maybe it is because you are single? Maybe you would get more respect from men if you wear a wedding ring". That's so disgusting to me on so many levels. Needless to say, I gave my boss a piece of my mind and you can rest assured that he won't be saying something that stupid any time soon. 

The Governator Can Suck It

I took the past two days off work and took a little min-vacation, which I have desperately been needing. This school budget fiasco is almost driving me to have a heart attack. I'm not messing around here. I thought that stuff was bad back when Prop 227 was on the ballot (the bilingual education initiative), but after it passed we just had to figure out a way to work around it. It seems now though that our hands are tied behind our back.

It seems like every single day that passes, I can't predict what the hell is going to happen with the budget. If it isn't the state yanking us around and putting restrictions on certain budgets, then it's the state telling us that they are making certain categorical funds flexible that previously were restricted to only a certain population of students. One day there seems to be money in a budget and the next day, poof it is gone. If it's not the state jerking us around, it is the teachers, the parents, the principals, and other employees who are fighting us and one another over the money.

It's almost about to make me hate money. I said ALMOST, mind you.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Goodbye and Good Riddance: Adios to Low Performers

Today I went to the retirement party of one of my former bosses. I didn't want to go, but my current boss asked me to go with him, so I decided to go. I am disappointed in myself for doing so.

For the sake of this post, I will call her Suzy. Suzy has been a school principal for years and years and she was my first principal when I was a new teacher.

When I arrived, tons of people were talking about what a wonderful person she had been. The first speaker stated that she aspires to be like Suzy one day, and she said that the greatest thing that she learned from Suzy was how to shop on QVC. A couple of other speakers stood up there and talked about how Suzy hooked them up with many police officers and maintenance workers that she always had hanging around her.  One of her former teachers stood up there and talked about how Suzy could drink a lot of alcohol and was a great pool player. A higher level manager talked about her ridiculously pink office.

I could go on and on about all of the things that they spoke about, but I want to refrain from making myself SICK. Not once did anyone mention what a great leader she had been. Because she wasn't a great leader, at least in my opinion.

When she interviewed me for a sixth grade teaching position years ago, the first question she asked was if I was single and whether or not I liked to party. She always catered to all of the men, babied the men and tried to be the eternal matchmaker instead of actually writing up shitty teachers and holding people accountable. 

I can recollect a time when one of my wacko colleagues had two young girls spend the night at his house. He was infatuated with one of the little girls and I suspected that he was a perv. I approached Suzy and told her about my concerns. The first thing out of her mouth was, "Oh, we need to find him a girlfriend". I said to her, "No, we need to find him a fucking shrink." I actually had to strong arm her into investigating the situation because in my sane world teachers don't have third and fourth grade little girls spend the night at their house.

Everything about Suzy and her leadership style bred mediocrity. She rarely came out of her office and the few times that my students saw her walking around they actually asked me who she was. Can you imagine that-students not even knowing who the school principal was?? She made excuses for everyone, especially the men, and everything was a big party to her. She put people up on a pedestal and told everyone what a great teacher they were, when she had never even been in their classroom. She didn't get into classrooms much because she was truly shopping online in her office all day long, and she was not one to hide it. 

Suzy left the school in shambles a couple of years ago as one of the lowest scoring schools in the district.

As I sat listening to everyone's stories, I felt dirty in a strange way. I felt like a hypocrite sitting there because every story that someone told about her made me think even less of her. 

On my ride home, I thought about the time that I read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I recall an exercise in the book where the author asked you to imagine your funeral and imagine what your loved ones would say and what your colleagues would say about your life. Throughout the entire party today, not one person brought up the fact that she was an excellent leader who made a difference in the lives of children.

People in my school district always accuse me of taking my work too seriously. I can only hope that at my retirement party people will talk about my accomplishments and how I have made an impact on the lives of children and our community. I most definitely hope that people don't remember me for having taught them to shop on QVC or as a wild party animal. I hope I am remembered as someone who busted her ass to make a difference for children and worked tirelessly to make this world a better place. 

Goodbye and good riddance to her. I am very sorry that as a leader in the same institution, that now I have to clean up some of the mess that she leaves behind.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Grieving is a Bitch

Today I will have one of those touchy feely posts that I hate to post. But I suppose that I just can't help it.

I am having problems today dealing with the death of a loved one. It seems like it was so long ago and I should get over it, but every year the anniversary of his death comes around and I can hardly deal with it. Saturday will be the anniversary.

Over fourteen years have passed.

Fourteen years ago, my boyfriend was supposed to take me out to a party when I got out of work. He never showed up and I paged him over and over about what an asshole he was. The next day his friend called me at work and told me that he was dead.

Apparently he headed to a party without me and was going to pick me up later and bring me to the party when I got out of work. Someone started shooting into the crowd at a party and he started to run away. He was shot in the back and by the time that his friends took him to the hospital he was dead.

I paged him all night long with nasty messages because I thought that he stood me up. I don't think I have ever been able to forgive myself.

I haven't been to his grave in over ten years. Every year I promise myself that I will visit and I just can't bring myself to do so. 

Today I received a call from both his mother and his former best friend. I would just rather not have them call me anymore. I hate to say that, but it's true. It's too hard for me to deal with. 

I'm a tough, bad ass bitch, but it still hurts me every year when the anniversary rolls around. I just want to roll up, and forget that it ever happened. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

NCLB Can Kiss My Ass

Yesterday I had a meeting with representatives from the California Department of Education over compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act. It was brought to my attention that we may be out of compliance because we have not been offering services to private schools. What a load of crap. 

Let me get this straight-we are a public school institution and I've got to provide services to a private school? What the hell for? If private schools want to be detached from the public school system, then they should come up with their own services as far as I'm concerned. 

I asked for clarification as to what we should be doing to help the private schools. They recommended that we should provide timely and immediate consultations to the schools regarding assessment, professional development and training, etc. I'll repeat-what a load of crap. So, now I have to dedicate my precious time and public education resources to help out these damn private schools?

Apparently the No Child Left Behind Act requires that public school systems assist the private schools. I'll repeat for the third time-BULLSHIT! I'm going to engage in my own little act of civil disobedience and refuse to help an institution who is NOT part of the public school system. They are on their own, whether the federal government likes it or not.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Charter Schools and the Capitalist Way

For some strange reason, that American Indian Public Charter School article that I bitched about in my last post is still really bothering me. I can't explain why, but I suspect that it is because of my irritation with charter schools within my work context that I have been experiencing lately. I decided to look up the charter school today and it DOES say this on their website: "We are looking for hard working people who believe in free market capitalism to join our family at AIPCS." "Multi-cultural specialists, ultra liberal zealots, and college-tainted oppression liberators need not apply."

Puke to the highest degree. Liberatory pedagogues should be present in all inner-city schools, jackasses. It figures that rich and privileged white men would know just how to education poor black and brown kids.

This type of ignorant shit has been pissing me off all week and has set me in a mood from hell. I'm totally serious. All week long I have been dealing with fucked up charter schools who are taking advantage of our kids, basically. These business people (as in the case of the American Indian Charter School--he was in real estate I believe) come into our schools, make money off of our kids, and then the public education system typically has to pick up all the pieces when the kids are either kicked out of the charter school because they aren't performing to their expectations or the charter school crumbles. It's all a sham to dismantle the public education system, make money off of innocent kids and shove traditional teaching methods down the throats of children who live in poverty.

I was just reading in the LA Times opinion piece that many people are just as disgusted with the school as I am. In fact, the opinion piece is titled "Capitalism for the Kids". Many of the opinion pieces just reminded me of one of my favorite books on the topic written by Bowles and Ginitis "Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational Reform and the Contradictions of Economic Life" which details that schools are nothing more than institutions designed to reproduce the existing class structure in society. It's an older book, but it's a classic and a must read.

It figures that everything reminds me of a damn book. I'm beginning to think that I need to get a life outside of the bookstore.