Commencing Countdown, Engines On…

Special Delivery...

Special Delivery…

Deathlok is a cyborg. Pretty basic sentence in my world, pretty obscure to most of the people that I deal with. Cyborgs, as most people have at least a vague idea about, are part human, part machine. Darth Vader, Robocop, Terminator, Seven of Nine, and that guy, Deathlok. There have been a bunch of Deathlok cyborgs, this is the version from the early 90’s…contemporary with the War Machine Suit that I have been depicting lately.

Why is our hero hauling around a Deathlok cyborg? First, because they are total bad@$$es. TOTAL. Secondly, because each Deathlok has a tactical computer that assesses threats, stores information, and otherwise helps out with the digital side of being a total bad @$&. There’s an important digital component to staying ahead of things, to staying on top of any unfolding situation. Having recently been offered a walk on part in a “War,” one might say that I have a more than significant “unfolding situation.”

Despite coming off as something of a luddite, I have a real affection for machinery and technology. It just needs to be necessary to the task, and furthermore, reliable. I don’t want to run my class off of unreliable tech, nor do I want to rely on it for anything important, like conferring grades or so forth. As readers know, we have a brand new, kind of buggy document system for students called MiSiS at LAUSD, and that system has been plagued with problems. It now mostly works, having been a high priority for the District to get in working order.

In class, a student delivers a note from Admin. This note went to every grade seven teacher, and was well intentioned as a “heads up.” I appreciated it, since my own timeline was off by a bit…having been distracted by putting all my documents for “Meet the Press (Parts 1 and 2) in order. Getting into my hands at a bit before ten AM, it informed teachers that grades needed to be entered into MiSiS by Wednesday, when the grade entry window closed.

At no point had any teacher been trained in how to do this. At NO point. Thankfully, I looked it up with my co-teacher on Sunday, so I was more than prepared. In fact, with little effort on my part, the task was completed, albeit with certain problems. For instance, if a class is “pass/no pass” what grade do you give? LAUSD doesn’t really do pass/fail courses. Still, armed with the powers of a Masters Degree from a major University, I googled the problem and got a decent answer.

Not hard to do, any of it. And, being a good soldier at heart, given an order, I’ll just jump on it. Still…there should have been a training. Heck, there should have been a “heads up” about grades…you know, student achievement…earlier than 24 hours before the due date. I mentioned this at our joint English and History meeting, and the representative of admin present only had excuses, and a passing of the buck. This was frustrating…because I was only too happy to accept responsibility for my students’ grades, and getting it done fast…but there was no willingness to say “We @#$%ed up” above my pay grade.

Typical. Not so typical was the fact that 90 percent of the staff present were in red, the Union’s color of choice…which is to be worn on Tuesday. It wasn’t lost on me, and I made a point of it.

Another fine point was made by a much more knowledgeable figure than me. He stated correctly that, “If we aren’t giving grades for Advisory/Homeroom, we WILL get in trouble with our SIG grant. It has to be instructional time, so there has to be a grade.” True…very true. The same is true of our pass/fail elective “Career Awareness.” Given 90 minutes of instructional time, every other day, it is a five credit class for the district.

At five credits, it needs to get a letter grade. Despite this, we sent home a syllabus saying it was pass/fail, and were given instructions that it was to be so. I guess it has to be…since there wasn’t curriculum for five weeks, and the materials received aren’t “Career Awareness.”

The galling part…is that A) these are grades that students will receive, and there was such a cavalier attitude about it, B) we are straight up ignoring our school grant plan and the terms of the grant, and no one seems to notice, and C) teachers caring about grades was somehow something that the administrator in the meeting DIDN’T want to talk about. my co-teacher left immediately in disgust.

Still…Deathlok is present in the art for real reasons. Just like Deathlok gets to be a super soldier because he has a super computer advising him, warning him, directing him…I need to deliver a powerful digital presence. There are tons of public documents on the internet, easily accessible in the electric zeitgeist, like PSC plans, SIG II guidelines and documents, and other such things. Left to themselves, these items don’t add up to anything. Just like the haphazard nature of a battlefield means nothing to luther manning…but something to Deathlok.

Deathlok’s computer system draws him a picture, and connects the dots for him. It shows him the best way, and cuts to the chase. In order to be understood, in order to make real change, I need to create a metaphorical Deathlok…not just a bad@$&, but the system that connects the dots for it. I need to make an underground that connects the Bell Schedule to the transformation plan document, and shows the contradictions and issues. Without the artificial scaffold, it’s just so much chaotic garbage that is impossible to bottom line.

Also, like our hero holding Deathlok, I need to find the right place to drop it. That cyborg supersoldier is cool looking, but doesn’t do much good being hauled around. He needs to be put, with his fancy computer, where it is most effective…where the objective can be met. Although I have the plan, and the documents, I don’t yet have a great idea where to drop things off. In the past, going to the system to police itself has only resulted in cover ups…much like the larger scale iPad debacle.

Still…a school where teachers haven’t had training to submit grades should be a big deal. We should worry about the priority structure. Add to that the safety problems, and the failure to comply with the directives that define the school’s very plan…it’s hard to believe that the media hasn’t yet glommed onto it.

That was a hint, media people. Howard Blume, Los Angeles Wave, LA Opinion, LA Weekly…you can comment. Feel free.

Happy to point the way for a metaphorical cyborg to clean some house.

Next Issue: Second Chances for Mickey Rat!


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