Online Testing: The End of Days.

That looks satisfying.

That looks satisfying.

Today is the final day of Online Testing at my school. To say that it has gone poorly is an understatement…every day has technical challenges that make testing a chore of huge proportions. The best thing that I can say about it is that the process is done. For both students and teachers, this is a clear sign of the End of the Year being in sight.

My co-teacher is in the midst of a grim countdown as her key coping strategy, with equal parts of playing Dragon Age as if it were a full time job. I find myself exhausted, and somewhat confused at this point as to the meaning of it all. The superintendent and the Board decided that this test wouldn’t actually count toward anything, so the entire endeavour was pointless. Further, the LA Times reported, today, that only 25 percent of current tenth graders are in a position to actually graduate with a diploma in two years. That’s three out of four kids not in a position to get a simple high school diploma.

I’m not preparing students for standardized tests. I’m certainly not preparing them for college, since the stats say a huge number won’t even get the high school diploma. It really begs the question, “What am I doing here?”

Still…the testing is DONE. As a milestone, that’s important.

At the same time, a series of Union related votes happened at our school in the past week. One was to confirm certain out of classroom positions at our school. The interesting part of that vote is that most of the people on the ballot are loudly perceived by faculty as at odds with teachers, students, or productivity. There were exceptions, that I won’t get into here, or now…confidentiality, you know. Still…one would have expected at least one of them to have been voted out of the position, and back to a classroom.

Nope. So next year, when a series of people come to me with complaints, and ask me to “do something about it,” I’ll be able to point out that the staff voted for those positions. We CHOSE them, for better or for worse…in this case, at least one or two are for worse.

Another of those votes was for our Bell Schedule. A school’s bell schedule is VERY important. It is the thing that in conjunction with the number of students, determines the number of sections that you will have for any class. If you need more sections, you usually need to hire more teachers. Makes sense, right?

We KNOW that we are losing grants that hire about fifteen teachers, another way of looking at it puts the number around twenty. Still…we have full knowledge that on site displacement of teachers will happen due to grant losses. Jobs will be lost. You would think, then, that intelligent voters would vote for the choice with the MOST sections, to ensure the largest number of jobs. That’s smart.

The staff voted for the opposite. The schedule with the LEAST number of sections, ensuring the smallest number of remaining jobs. Now…I’ll point out that I did that, on purpose, with the idea of downsizing in mind, and full knowledge that my group is at the top of the “you can’t downsize me” list. You would think that the staff as a whole, being less about running rivers through and starting over, and more about paying their own rent, would have done the opposite of a downsizer’s view.

Once again, they did not.

Finally, we had the Union wide vote on the tentative agreement. The whole point was to vote either for or against the agreement, which features a ten percent raise for Union members, as well as a revised health benefits agreement. i myself like living indoors, so even though I think that the agreement is predicated upon Union leadership’s fundamental inability to read a balance sheet or understand basic fiscal policy, I voted for the agreement. I haven’t had a raise in years, and find it reasonable to vote for anything that makes that raise a contractual necessity.

I’m assuming that my fellow staff members acted similarly…but you see the counter evidence above, in the two more local votes.

That’s a big part of the art above as well. In addition to the idea of a final blow finishing the Online Testing, I felt like there needed to be a representation of the Union’s less then rational, less than intelligent leadership. As I’m looking forward to watching the end of Agents of SHIELD and Age of Ultron this weekend, I felt like the bullying simpleton shouldn’t be a Hulk of any kind, but the Hulk like Mister Hyde. He’s been appearing in Agents of SHIELD portrayed by Kyle Mclaughlin, who I constantly refer to as “The Captain” now. The Captain is a fantastic reference here, because the portrayal of the television version is pretty on point with most Union officials: polite, friendly, likeable, until that moment of tantrum like irrationality that makes you question why you ever started the dialogue in the first place.

So there’s that idea as well, in the image. The concept of struggling with a force like the Captain, who might go all Mister Hyde on you at a moment’s notice. In researching this, I looked up how tough Hyde is in the comics. After all, in the “Under Siege” plotline, he tortures Jarvis and the Black Knight, and nearly killed Hercules, who is major, major league. As it turns out, he started off able to lift about 11 tons (which is very specific) which puts him as…well…non competitive with guys like Herc and Thor. As his body adjusted to its new form, Mr. Hyde’s strength increased to the 50 ton range, making it possible to stand toe-to-toe with beings as powerful as Thor and survive. However, through further experimental procedures over the years, Hyde’s strength has increased further. He is now capable of lifting about 70 tons.

Which raises two points:

1. The Calvin Zabo on Agents of SHIELD is toward the beginning of that continuum.
2. In order to be compoetitive with our nigh invulnerable protagonist, Zabo needs to be near the middle or end of that range.

The second part is most interesting to me in this moment. Considering that the Union takes my dues money, and consistently acts in ways that I dissent with…I’m willing to say that the Captain, Mr. Zabo, is at the very least at the middle of his game. That is, if Mr. Zabo is a Union guy….which it seems he might be.

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2 thoughts on “Online Testing: The End of Days.

  1. First, nice job on today’s art. Second, I am confused by the whole bell schedule thing. Isn’t the school required to accept all students in the designated area who enroll? And isn’t the class size capped at a specific number? How can bell schedules affect either of those realities? Or does your school district have different rules?

    • Of course you are confused…and with good reason. It’s a confusing thing.

      First…you are correct. A public school must accept all enrollees within their area. This is the first defining factor in deciding how many class sections need to be offered, because it tells you the net total of students per grade level.

      Class size…that isn’t really capped at a given number. There are mandates in place at the state level to produce such caps…but they turn into averages. So there may be a class section in special education with a class size of six, which brings your average down. Still…that produces a target average number, which is used to determine the number of periods of each class that you can offer. Still pretty logical.

      The bell schedule allows you to break up students into more groups. So…if we offer a seven period day, with each class being shorter, class sizes diminish. An unintended side effect is that you need to hire more teachers…because where a six period day has thirty classes taught in each subject area per week…a seven period day has thirty five. Those classes, are by necessity, smaller.

      Since it costs money to run smaller classes and more section, grants often pick up the slack. Our school no longer has those grants (for a cornucopia of reasons) bringing the number of employable teachers automatically down, for payroll reasons. Obviously…that would being class sizes up. A self interested staff would have voted for a bell schedule with more class sections in it…since that would recover some of the lost grant driven positions through other funding.

      Isn’t that bewilderingly complex? It’s the behind the scenes complexities of how schools run that started Adequacy in the first place.

      Lastly, thanks for the praise on today’s art. I went back and forth on it, and it was a complex composition. Random rubble is surprisingly hard to draw, as well as a loose posture in a figure smacking the ground. There’s no photo reference for that.

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