Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My letter in response to the "Don't say gay" bill

As you may have heard, a senator in my state of Tennessee is trying to get a bill passed through the senate (and it's already passed a committee) essentially saying that discussions, books, or any other material that mentions anything other than heterosexuality are not welcome in elementary or middle schools.

My very first thoughts went to the kids who have committed suicide because they were bullied. In some cases those kids were just perceived to be gay.

I have heard of letters that authors like Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson, Maureen Johnson & countless others have received from kids thanking them for their books because they gave the kids a voice & showed them that they were not alone.

How can anyone who cares for the well being of kids think this is a good idea? I see my first job as a protector of these kids-whether they are in my classroom or not. That's why I wrote a letter to my senator and representative (because the House has a similar bill that hasn't moved yet-HB0229).

If you live in TN, please contact your senator and them him/her to STOP this bill.
Here is my letter:

As a middle school teacher in a TN public school I am deeply concerned about this so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill (SB0049). It is my understanding that as an educator I wouldn't be allowed to acknowledge the fact that students are gay. Please don't forget the recent headlines where kids- some of them in middle school- committed suicide because they were gay or just perceived to be gay. Don't tie our hands where we cannot
address these situations. Don't silence these kids who are struggling with who they are by banning novels that deal with similar situations.
Ask any young adult author who writes on these subjects just how powerful & lifesaving their novels are & ask them how many kids write to them to tell them that.

Be bold enough to say no to this intolerance. Say no to this dangerous bill.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Severe Weather Testing Procedures

We had our TCAP meeting today since our tests are next week. You know the drill-

make sure everything is covered up (bc my Harry Potter poster might give someone an answer)

they aren't allowed to have a book in case they finish early (bc the book might give them an answer)

walk around & make sure they are putting the answers in the correct section but DO NOT look at the test! (bc we'd hate for the teachers to know what the kids are tested on)

lock your door when it's break time (bc a troll might break in and eat the tests?)

etc, etc, etc,

But this last part really takes the cake. Because this is Severe Weather Time, they decided to give us procedures on what to do if weather hits during the test. This is getting ridiculous..........


1. Should a severe weather situation occur during testing, please remain calm. To display any kind of anxiety would be a testing irregularity and must be reported.

2. Please do not look out the window to watch for approaching tornadoes. You must monitor the students at all times. To do otherwise would be a testing irregularity and must be reported.

3. Should students notice an approaching tornado and begin to cry, please make every effort to protect their testing materials from the flow of tears and sinus drainage.

4. Should a flying object come through your window during testing, please make every effort to ensure that it does not land on a testing booklet or an answer sheet. Please make sure to soften the landing of the flying object so that it will not disturb the students while testing.

5. Should shards of glass from a broken window come flying into the room, have the students use their bodies to shield their testing materials so that they will not be damaged. Have plenty of gauze on hand to ensure that no one accidentally bleeds on the answer documents. Damaged answer sheets will not scan properly.

6. Should gale force winds ensue, please have everyone stuff their test booklets and answer sheets into their shirts…being very careful not to bend them because bent answer documents will not scan properly.

7. If any student gets sucked into the vortex of the funnel cloud, please make sure they mark at least one answer before departing…and of course make sure they leave their answer sheets and test booklets behind. You will have to account for those.

8. Should a funnel cloud pick you, the test administrator, up and take you flying over the rainbow, you will still be required to account for all of your testing materials when you land so please take extra precautions. Remember, once you have checked them out, they should never leave your hands.

9. When rescue workers arrive to dig you out of the rubble, please make sure that they do not, at any time, look at or handle the testing materials. Once you have been treated for your injuries, you will still be responsible for checking your materials back in. Search dogs will not be allowed to sift through the rubble for lost tests…unless of course they have been through standardized test training.

(BTW, my principal has a great sense of humor. Honestly, I was buying it for the first 3 because it's about this bad. I needed this laugh today) :)