About Me

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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.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Notes from Mayflower UCC 3/6/16


Here are some notes I took while attending Mayflower this morning along with Cat. My comments are in [brackets].

Sermon by Rev. Lori Walke
Rev. Lori Walke

Scripture: Luke 15:1-3, 11-32 [The Parable of the Prodigal Son]
Sermon Title: THE WORST PARABLE

Jesus is criticized by the Pharisees [think-Club for Growth & other such groups] and the scribes [think any group of religious fundamentalists]

We all like to imagine ourselves as the Prodigal Son in this story because we like the idea that no matter how badly we mess things up, we can still be redeemed.

We often find ourselves acting like the older brother who is critical of the way that the father treats the wastefully extravagant son (which is what the word "prodigal" means. We want to see consequences for bad choices.

We don't want to play the part of the "prodigal" father who is wastefully extravagant not only with his welcome and forgiveness of the son.

We need to learn how to say 3 things: "We Love You. You Are Forgiven. Welcome Homes."

[My question, "So when does love and forgiveness become enabling?"]


Thursday, March 03, 2016

What Happened When Our Juniors Were Required to Take the SAT on Wednesday

Actually, this was not exactly high-stakes, but the attitude the kids had towards it was about the same.
On Wednesday, all juniors in the Oklahoma City Public School district were required to take the SAT exam.  This is the brainchild of someone brought into the district by the new administration. Here's how our kids responded.

A large number of juniors were absent from the test on Wednesday.  I was the proctor for what was supposed to be a group of 20 but only 15 bothered to show up.  So about a quarter of the students or more elected not to take the test with their feet.

It was very warm in the testing room. The temperature on the room thermostat, which the teachers do not control, rose to about 81 degrees. We managed to find a couple of room fans, one of which is my own, to attempt to cool the kids down.  Bottled water was provided, but it was not refrigerated. 

Heads began to go down rather early in the test. TB put his head down at the start. IM complained about the heat and then decided to nap. 

A few seemed to look upon the test as an opportunity for them to show how well they can perform on the test and/or get into college. Most, though, saw this as something they had to endure.'

I wonder if this is because we educators do not demand enough of these students, and so they are not prepared. Or has the culture of poverty, the hopelessness of these children so stunted their ambitions that they do not think this test is worth the effort it takes to perform well since they do not see that they can reap any rewards from it.

Despite all the problems I see, it did appear that most of the 15 students were making an effort to do well. 

Then they begin to get restless. We started at 8:00am and ended at around 1 pm.  We are doing the version of the test that has an essay component.  Many students leave the essay blank, which is something they do when I give them a combination multiple choice/essay test. The essay portion has an extended bit of reading along with it. Many looked at the reading in the essay booklet and exclaimed, "Hell No!"

IM awakens from her nap and begin talking, in whispers, to her friend TT.  I wanted them separated in class, but they were pretty good for most of the test.  In the back, 3 boys start teasing each other. 

Finally, we are through, and we go down to Media Center for lunch.  The lunch crew provides a  sack lunch for the students consisting of some lunch meat, a slice of cheese, white bread, and an apple. Fortunately, someone sprang for some pizza for the crew.  

We will see what the results of the test are sometime in the future.  We are about 20 days or so from the End Of Instruction Tests.