Those Eyes

I have a secret fantasy
No one knows bout it but me
It’s really evil, very bad
Involves my teacher Ms. McFad

Clearly there is no one meaner
Caught me passing notes to Gina
“There’s no fooling me she said
I have eyes in back of my head”

So she waged an intervention
Both of us are in detention
Stuck in school life after hell
Our parents grounded us as well

And so that brings me where I am
When the fantasies began
In class all alone I find her
And start sneaking up behind her

Intent to seal my teacher’s fate
With stapler, chalk or paperweight
Silently I hover close
More silent than passing a note

More silent than a yawn or moan
Or those discreetly checking phones
Or rolling eyes or looking glum
Or chewing wads of bubble gum

I raise the weapon of my choice
When so clearly I hear her voice
And to my horror I do find
A sight forever in my mind

That made me run away in dread
For truly in back of her head
Staring so accusingly
Those two eyes looking right at me.

This one is dedicated to my daughter who just started 3rd grade last week.

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The Inexplicable Drama Of Me

Lately I have come to see,
My life as reality TV,
Where they might cue in crickets because,
I said something worthy of a long, awkward pause.

Where in a grocery store the camera might pan,
To show the audience I’ve forgotten the jam,
And if I do something really dumb,
It will not be overcome,
But rather will be front page news,
In my friend’s private interviews.

And if there’s drama or commotion,
It will be replayed in slow motion,
And a very popular feature,
Rock n’ roll supermom vs. some poor teacher,
As the world waits on the edge of their seats,
To see the results when they tune in next week.

And though I’ll be a huge ignoramus,
It’s likely I’ll be rich and famous,
Write autobiographies and have fat paychecks coming,
Based on the fact that I’ve done nothing,
And get recognition from the academy,
For playing the jackass that is me.

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Sometimes You Just Gotta Say Phuket

Watching the Amazing Race last night, it occurred to me that I really need to grow up.The contestants in this leg were in a capital city in Indonesia called Bandung and I couldn’t stop thinking of it as Bad Dung! I mean, now that I’m a mother and all, it really doesn’t do for me to be giggling every time a word or name sounds remotely inappropriate, does it? I am writing this blog as a fond farewell to all the times I have exhibited this shameful behavior and brought embarrassment to my family and the people I love.

 
Like really!…How about the time when my son had that 1st grade teacher named Ms. Quesada and I just could NOT stop calling her Ms. Quesadilla! I mean, bad enough that I had to expose my son to this kind of nonsense, but things were really awkward when a slip of the tongue caused me to refer to that nice teacher as such when speaking to the school principal (true story, no lie).
 
And if this wasn’t enough to make me see the error of my ways, imagine the plight of poor Ms. Naples who had the misfortune of teaching my son in the 2nd grade. (For those of you who don’t see this one coming, just substitute the ‘a’ sound for an ‘i’).
 
This just progressed when my son switched schools and there was a teacher there named Ms. Doody. (Yes really her name, I mean at that point you just really ought to NOT be teaching kids, am I right?). And the same for you (this going back to my elementary science teacher) Ms. Lipschitz or the shop teacher Harry Kirshner (Kirshner, Kirshner, Harry, Harry!).
 
It even got in the way of my professional relationships. For instance, in my brilliant career in the administrative field, I have come across many domestic and foreign shipping responsibilities (notice how I don’t use the word ‘duties’?). I would often giggle at these poor people’s last names as well. So I want to put in an open apology to all the times I laughed at you Ms. Wiener, and especially you Mr Takashito.
 
Now, I don’t know if I can just change my ways overnight. It’s been a long road and obviously I need to masticate on all of this a little while. I will definitely keep you abreast of the situation. Until then, I bid a fond farewell to laughing at you, Bangkok; and you, Lake Titicaca; as I kiss Uranus goodbye!

Waving the White Flag?

Well it’s been a long hard road, but I may have finally come to an impasse in my battle with homework, teachers, and all things related. I would like to be able to conclude, to seal things off with a nice little bow, where there is, if not a victory, then maybe a sense of closure. But instead of this nice neat little bow, I’m afraid it’s more of a fraying cable and my neat little package is, in fact kind of bulging all over the place, it’s contents threatening to come tumbling out everywhere.

I did have a meeting with the Principal, the Showdown at High Noon which was more of a “What do you want me to do about it? Talk to the teachers.” I explained to him that the teachers were no longer returning my emails and he did, at least, open a line of communication, I think…

Anyway, I should give him some credit because he did actually meet with the teachers who did nothing more than blame my son and his habits, most of which he has since corrected, for their own shortcomings. It is sad that they feel the need to defend themselves at the expense of their students. I think it is appropriate here for me to include the letter I sent to my son’s math teacher last night:

Dear Ms. Teacher,

I believe the last time we communicated was when you made a recommendation that Jesse leave your class to take Math 6. (her answer to my complaint of over-homeworking – take a simpler math class-Ed.) I was grateful for your communication. It made me realize that perhaps Jesse was weak when it came to his multiplication tables and that he was taking a challenging class.

 

I asked Jesse at that point if he wanted to continue on in your class and he did. This meant that Jesse, with the help of myself and his father, needed to concentrate more on what he was being taught. I grilled Jesse on his multiplication tables and he got out of math boot camp and his grades have come up in your class and I hope they will continue to do so.

 

Jesse also needed to hunker down more as far as his work habits go. He is now beginning his assignments in class when given the opportunity to do so and I know this because I see the work he has done. (This in response to a false accusation she made about my son.-Ed.)

 

I do want you to know that although Jesse’s work habits have improved along with his comprehension, the homework assignments continue to take him a minimum of 45 minutes, and often an hour. When I check his homework, although I use a calculator, and have Jesse’s homework for reference, it can take me anywhere from 20 minutes to a half an hour.

 

Thank you for your time.

This letter, by the way, is a completely watered down version of what I would have liked to say, but I felt the need to hold my ‘tongue’. It is, after all, a long hard road that leads to end of my son’s semester. And, by the way, I did not get a response from Ms. Math Teacher, so perhaps the roads of communication are still hopelessly blocked. But then again, what was she supposed to say?

I’ll tell you what she was supposed to say! How about “I’m so sorry Mrs, Bergen, that I love to torture 11 year olds with an inappropriate amount of homework and potentially ruin their young lives and I’ll never do it again!!” But she did not. So I guess we will just agree to disagree. #peoplesuck

So Then This Happened…

So while I,  Rock N’ Roll Supermom was out trying to stop Homework from eating up our children, other Super Villians were taking advantage of my situation and attacking from the other side. I was blindsided by… The Teachers.

First came… The Math Teacher. My son had an assignment and, because he was able to figure out certain problems in his head, and didn’t show his work, he was deducted 50% from his assignment. 50%?? Really?? Come on!! I wrote to the teacher to tell her that I happened to know my son was able to figure out these assignments in his head but was met with stony silence. I guess I am fast becoming one of her least favorite customers after accusing her of doling out excessive homework assignments. Anyway, I know ‘Not Showing Work’ is a big one, and choose your battles, right? I guessed I would leave sleeping dogs lie as far as that was concerned. But then…
The Science Teacher cometh!! So on this occasion, Mrs. Science Teacher decided to deduct an entire 10 points on my son’s test score because he forgot to write his last name on the test bringing him from a 90 to an 80. Really?? 10 pts?? Come on!! He’s an 11 year old boy! That’s what 11 year old boys do!! I’m sure when he’s 30 and a CEO of a huge company signing contracts he will be including his last name, and if he’s 30 and forgetting to sign his name on welfare applications, we have bigger fish to fry.
Anyway, the thing is, I am meant to understand that school funding, which is so precious in this economic climate, is based on student’s grades. I am constantly being bombarded by letters and emails asking parents to help bring student’s grades up. So how can we do this?…how?…how? Oh here’s a good one…how about we tell the teachers TO STOP BEING SUCH HARD ASSES ON OUR CHILDREN…HUH? Anyway, excuse me for losing my temper a bit on this one. Where was I? Oh, yes.
Anyway, an update on the homework front..
I wrote again to the man at the school district who did not respond to my second letter asking him how we can enforce homework guidelines when teachers are underestimating the homework load.This time he did write back. One thing he advised is that I have a face to face with the principal. I’m not sure if this will do any good since the principal is already aware of my problems, but I did email him to ask him what he thought, and if we do meet and anything interesting comes of it, you will be first to know.
Slightly more interesting though, is that he recommended an article to me that had recently been published in Atlantic Monthly on homework. There is a lot on it I have already seen and read but a good read none the less. However, one thing it discussed was how one of the reasons the U.S. assigns so much homework is to be competitive with other countries as far as student grades go. First of all, this is stupid because study after study proves that giving students more homework doesn’t improve grades but beyond that… Isn’t it enough that our children can be sent out to war when they are 18? Isn’t it enough that the U.S. is a superpower who can blow most countries to Timbuktu? Isn’t enough that America is the land of the free, home of the brave, give us your tired, your poor? Fuck the other countries! Let their children be miserable!

Open Letter to The Principal Pt II: The Saga Continues

Well thank you all for your outpouring of support on the ‘too much homework’ subject. I really don’t know how many of you might be chomping at the bit to hear some follow up, which really wasn’t much, or terribly exciting, but I would feel remiss if I didn’t let you in on some of my findings.

1. Well miracles never cease because the principal did respond to me, but only to refer me to someone else, or as the case may be, quite a few someone elses. He told me to talk to someone who worked at my sons school district and also to consult the teachers. So….
2. I wrote to this someone at the school district (same letter pretty much) and maybe miracles never do cease, because he wrote me back as well. He said that the policies of how much homework was being given to the students were recently reviewed and currently, students in my sons school district, should be receiving 4-8 hours of homework a week. He also suggested contacting the teachers re the homework. So…
3. Now actually the teachers for me are a bit of a touchy subject. As I mentioned before, my son was missing some assignments and the teacher’s had been very helpful to me in helping him catch up so I thought it might not be the best time to completely piss them off. However, I could not resist writing one of my famous strongly worded emails to his honor’s math teacher who is a constant culprit of over-homeworking.
This particular letter was brought on by a pre-algebra math sheet that nearly brought my husband and I to tears and took about 2 hours to complete, including corrections, causing my son to stay up 15 minutes past his bedtime completing assignments. The result of  the letter  was a very angry teacher who denied that the homework assignments were so time consuming and suggested that my son request to transfer out of honors math, which he does not want to do.
4. I did also write back to the man at the school district to tell him that I did actually consult one of the teachers regarding the homework policy, and that the teachers seem to be underestimating the homework assignments and I asked him how, exactly the current policy was being enforced. This time the man who seemed so open and helpful to my questions and correspondence did not get back to me, so I guess miracles do cease.
As for me, I will continue fighting the good fight and, if anything interesting comes of it, I will let you know. But what I am really dying to know is, why kids do have to rewrite entire text book questions when all that is needed is the answer? Seems excessive to me. That’s one for the social studies/science teacher, when the time is right, unless any of you know… thanks.