Monthly Archives: March 2013

Upon Receipt of the Golden Apple

My student’s introduction:

     Jeff is a great teacher.  He is always so funny.  He makes learning so fun!  He always dances and sings.  And when he is telling someone what to do, he always does it nicely. 

      He has taught me things in school, but also other things about life.  He makes me feel like I can do what makes me, me.  That I can express myself and show who I really am, not just hide it inside.

     As a teacher he shows so much compassion for everyone.  And he has taught me to love everyone and everything for who they are.  He has taught me to treat those people not just as people I see, not just as classmates, but as a family.  And I think that is how everyone should treat one another.

     Jeff is always so kind and caring.  When I get older I will always remember him. 


My speech:

Thank you Katrina.  That is very sweet.   There are certain people you meet that you don’t want to disappoint.  Then students at your school grow up and become the parents of your students, and you don’t want to disappoint them.  Thank you Jessica.  And their parents turn out to be your co-teacher for quite a few years, and you learn so much from them, and don’t want to disappoint them either.  Thank you Sally.  And pretty soon you see this thread, growing and all around and you have a room full of people whom you don’t want to disappoint.  Parents who think enough of you to nominate you.  Thank you.   Really a whole community woven together in time before your eyes.  And then, people  are in a room to lift you up, people you’ve just met or don’t even know yet.  Business leaders who see the long connection between elementary education and people who are capable contributors, not just to business, but to society, to our world, and how that is actually a priority for everyone.

I’m not sure if I chose elementary or if elementary chose me.  I am a very elementary type of person, my humor particularly.  Most of my students, by this time of year, have outgrown my jokes.  I mean no indignity to this wonderful day, so please forgive the following goofiness.  I am giddy,   I am honored to the core, and thus begins my tortured metaphor about this Golden Delicious Day:

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.  Carl Sagan said that, and I think it applies to Golden Apples as well as apple pies.

To bear fruit we must grow and be nurtured.  So thanks to the family I grew up in, Mom, Dad, Jana, and my brothers Jon and Jerry who couldn’t be here today.
We must grow and change.  So thanks to the family I married into.  And the one I have with my wife, Kristin, and my daughters,  Laney and Sophia.  I love you.

And as most apple trees, we must be grafted.  I think that is especially true as teachers.   These aren’t my real arms, those are.  My co-teachers, or the teachers of me:  Sally,  Sandra,  and our speech pathologist Doris, who probably could have improved this speech.  And the teachers and community of Monte Vista, Paula, and the other teachers, who have been with me as I grew from a sapling.

The Golden Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  So thanks to Leith, the Principal reason the hail of policies and the wind of politics doesn’t spoil the fruit.  We are sheltered by a canopy of trust in our personal judgement and are an orchard of hard working professionals.  Kathy Jones, another Monte Vista Golden Apple here as proof, thanks Kathy.

Lastly, as an apple, I appreciate being picked.  My nephew Jake’s first word to me, as he looked up at me, was “nose”.  As your uncle nose I also appreciate being picked.  Thanks to the families who nominated me, and here and now for being recognized, thank you to the Golden Apple Fellows and sponsors.  There are many Golden Apples in our field that our presence here is not to exclude, but to represent.  I am glad to work as a teacher, and this affirmation of my work, of all of our work, is very humbling. May the seeds of our labors grow well, they have great promise.

My wife is giving me her knowing look, that the metaphor is bruised and may be getting rotten,  I’ve squeezed it to its last, so now I think I will go and sit down be “cider”.  
Thank you, very much.

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Hanna Skandera Confirmation

Today was the arduous process of testimonials on behalf of or against having Hanna Skandera as the Education Secretary for New Mexico.

In this corner, we have the people who do not want her as the Education Secretary.  Hannah Skandera has  documented conflicts of interests, some of which may have led to illegal or at least unscrupulous activity.  By the letter of the law she is not qualified.  Her approach to education is simplistic, and she communicates a disregard of teaching as a profession.  She does have connections with private companies in education and brings their business in as policy.

In that corner we have the people who do want her to continue in her assumed role for the past two years.   She has brought change.  She represents business, and business likes that.  She has worked hard.  She is in office, and whoever comes after will likely have the same ideas of reform.  “Reform is not having a confirmation hearing today, Hanna Skandera is.”

The last statement, which was accepted by both sides, is misleading.  Reform has different manifestations.  Hanna Skandera is part of the reform movement to privatize education.  She has interests in private companies that, under her domain.  Confirming her does bring that movement more momentum in our state.  The reason corporatization of education is not good is because whoever has the most money, dictates curricula.  Like when Texas decided to cut Thomas Jefferson out of textbooks.  The idea of a free marketplace of ideas fails when the stakes are high, such as with the banks that were “too big to fail”.   Private corporations would have a powerful propaganda machine.  Maybe they would be more responsible than states like Texas?  Unlikely.

One representative went on to talk about how the United States is losing its advantage to China, India, and other up and comers.  The real advantage we have had has been in innovation.  We lose that advantage by adopting the factory style education system that China is trying to get away from.  We should consider what we really want.

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Filed under Accountability and Standards, Education, Governor Martinez, Hanna Skandera