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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Biggest Classroom Management Problem


The biggest problem I have as a teacher is that my students continually carry on "sidebar" conversations during class time. This means that I am constantly interrupting my lesson to get the students refocused on the task at hand.

I have used all the classroom management methods I have been taught, but nothing seems to work all that well. This includes calling parents to let them know what their children are doing. The parents are very sympathetic and promise to do all they can to deal with their children, but the students' behavior is seldom altered that much.

So what's a teacher to do when classroom conversation makes it nearly impossible to carry on teaching and learning.

Obama's First 100 Days

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

HAPPY EARTH DAY!

Grand Avenue by

Was Torture Done to Justify Bush's Actions?

Torture Done of Political Purposes?
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration put relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.
Such information would've provided a foundation for one of former President George W. Bush's main arguments for invading Iraq in 2003. In fact, no evidence has ever been found of operational ties between Osama bin Laden's terrorist network and Saddam's regime.

McClatchy

I find this to be the most disturbing revelation so far in this on-going investigation. If this is true, then human beings were tortured, not for any needed information they might supply, but to justify a political decision that the Bush administration made.

It is as if, we were to torture business executives to provide proof of fraud and mismanagement.

I have been skeptical of the claim that we need to prosecute Bush officials for authorizing torture. i am begnning to feel that justice demands that we do so.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bison Chess Players at OKC Chess Tournament

Jacori amd Kendel play a practice game before the tournament begins..
Two of our chess players participated in a chess tournament at the Oklahoma City Main Library on Sunday afternoon.
Jacori ponders his next move.
Dan Wade, a fine promoter of scholastic chess in our city, organized the tournament which was the last of a series of tournaments for young people this school year. Dan helps to sponsor a chess club at Wilson Elementary School in the Oklahoma City School District.
Dan Wade of the Wilson Elementary Chess Club
The students had a great time. There were groups of players from Norman Public Schools, Eagle Ridge Institute and many other schools and organizations in central Oklahoma.
My thanks to Dan for putting on the tournament. I also thank the Oklahoma Scholastic Chess Organization for their support of scholastic chess in Oklahoma.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bush Torture and Stalag 17


from Talking Points Memo
A British professor whose research on sleep was cited in one of the just-released Bush administration torture memos has expressed outrage that his work was used to justify extreme sleep deprivation, including keeping subjects awake for up to 11 days.

In an interview with TPMmuckraker, James Horne, a leading authority in the field of sleep research, said he was "surprised and saddened" to see Bush officials "misrepresent" his research to argue that such sleep deprivation does not cause serious harm to its subjects.

In the play Stalag 17, sleep deprivation is used an "enhanced interrogation" techniques against a character named Lieutenant Dunbar, an American officer accused of sabatoging a German train (for only 3 days in the American's case). This leads to an interesting exchange between a Geneva Convention representative and the German officer in charge of the interrogation:

GENEVA MAN
I want to talk about Lieutenant Dunbar. Is this Lieutenant Dunbar?

VON SCHERBACH
It is.

GENEVA MAN
What exactly is he charged with?

VON SCHERBACH
Whatever it is, it's out of your jurisdiction. This man is not a prisoner of war. Not any more. He is a saboteur.

GENEVA MAN
He is a prisoner of war until you can prove sabotage.

DUNBAR
I didn't do it. I was in the Frankfurt station and the train was three miles away when it blew up.

VON SCHERBACH
Oh, come now! You threw a time bomb.

DUNBAR
How could I have had a time bomb? They searched me when they took me prisoner.

GENEVA MAN
And the way you search your prisoners, it does sound rather unlikely.

VON SCHERBACH
All I know is he did it. I am satisfied.

GENEVA MAN
I am not. According to the Geneva Convention --

DUNBAR
Is there anything about letting a guy sleep in the Geneva Convention? [Dunbar shuffles over to the sofa, and plunks himself down -- instantly asleep.]

VON SCHERBACH
(to the Geneva Man)
You were saying --?

GENEVA MAN
Simply this. After the hostilities are ended, there will be such a thing as a War Crimes Commission. If this man should be convicted without proper proof, you will be held responsible, Colonel von Scherbach.

VON SCHERBACH
Interesting.

GENEVA MAN
Isn't it?

As Arte Johnson used to say on Laugh-In Verrry Interesting! Indeed

The Banana Republic of Oklahoma

New Flag of Oklahoma?
The present Republican dominated Oklahoma legislature seems bent on seeing our state attain Third World status ASAP. Not only are they trying to give corporations blanket amenesty in personal injury lawsuits, they also want to inject politics into the Workmen's Compensation process, and strip public school teachers of any academic freedom and due process rights they might have.

It is all a part of the attitude that if we make the powerful more powerful, and reduce the working population to something akin to modern day serfdom, everything will be not only hunky but very, very dorry too. Once our betters are free from those bothersome obligations to respect the human dignity of those who service their needs, then we will obtain capitalistic Nirvana.

I really am having trouble giving my students a reason to remain in Oklahoma after graduation.

Friday, April 03, 2009

One more day as County Chairman


Tomorrow, I will had over the office of Oklahoma County Democratic Party Chairman to someone else. I have enjoyed being chairman, mostly, but I will be happy that someone else has the responsibility for a while.

We managed to raise a good deal of money, and we improved the county's website. I wish we had done better in the last elections, but we were moving against some powerful sources. Oklahoma was a landslide for John McCain. We got caught in it.

I will continue to work in politics, but someone else will have to worry about planning event and gettting people involved in the party.

Good luck to whomever comes after me.