In which you’ve got to be kidding me

My Congresswoman, an odious creature by the name of Jackie Walorski, died unexpectedly in a car accident several weeks ago. The way things work in Indiana is that if someone in office dies there has to be a special election to fill the seat no matter how little time is left in the term, but depending on the timing, the special election can be the same day as the general election, and there are no primaries– the parties just name their candidates by whatever means they choose. So the Democrats nominated the guy who already had the nomination for the general election, and the Republicans just named both a candidate for the special election (the winner will serve for about two months) and for the general. It is reasonable to assume that the same person will end up winning both, of course, but you never know.

A quick detour. You may recall a movie from the mid-nineties about a Notre Dame football walk-on named Rudy Ruettinger. Parts of it were actually filmed in my high school, and there are a handful of my classmates here and there filling out background/extra roles. Sean Astin starred as Rudy. This is the logo for the film:

The Republicans chose their candidate sometime in the last day or two. His name is Rudy Yakym. I have briefly perused his website and he appears to be a nutcase; there’s a bit on there about ending persecution of Christians, so we’re in genuine shithouse rat territory here and I’m super excited for the Republicans to be getting worse again.

Scroll slowly, here. Take a second, take all this in, and picture this guy’s campaign logo. Go ahead. I’ll give you a minute to think about it. In fact, have a song:

Okay. You ready?

This is Rudy Yakym’s campaign logo:

Literally all my dude did was turn off the bold.

Fuckin’ embarrassing.

In which these are not the giraffes you’re looking for

I have sung the praises of Potawatomi Zoo more than once in this space; our local zoo is genuinely a highlight of northern Indiana and we’ve been members for quite some time. They’ve recently acquired four new giraffes and have spent a lot of money extensively renovating a large swath of the zoo to construct a proper habitat for them. The zoo is typically closed during the winter, but once a month or so they have Zoo Days anyway, where they open for a few hours, rain or shine, and well, you see whatever you might be able to see. However, today was the first day that seeing the giraffes was possible, and the high today was a rather unseasonable 68 degrees.

We were going to the zoo.

Unfortunately, so was everyone else in South Bend. When we got to the zoo the line to get in was a block long, and the parking lot is a mess under the absolute best of circumstances, and “perfect Spring day featuring the public’s first real chance to see four hotly-anticipated new animals” is, uh, not the best of circumstances. So we did not go to the zoo today. And as soon as we decided we weren’t waiting in the line, much less whatever horror we might have encountered inside the zoo (they were limiting access to the animals, letting in a limited number of people for 10-minute blocks, so who knows how many a “limited number” is) we immediately drove past two perfect parking spaces.

We came home, opened all the windows, and I put shorts on.

There is a 60% chance of snow on Monday. Because Indiana.

If you want to feel like a celebrity for a little while, post the words “looking for an artist” on Twitter. Because holy shit are there a lot of people out there who very clearly have programmed a bot to reply instantly to any use of that sequence of words. And the funny thing is that I can tell from referrals how many people clicked back to the article, where I clearly describe what I’m looking for, and the vast majority of the 43 people who responded to that tweet or however many more who immediately DMed me did not (possibly because they were not human) click through the link on the Tweet to see what I was looking for.

Hilariously, however, I got a recommendation in comments almost immediately, and while I haven’t contacted the artist yet her style is exactly what I had in mind, so I think I’ve got somebody. I’ll take some time tomorrow or later today to go through all the comments I got and then delete the original Tweet just to do my diligence, but … man, asking the Internet for something worked this time.

Some good news, for once

The Indiana state Senate, in a rare moment of sanity, has defanged the grotesque HB 1134, removing the vast majority of what made it so offensive, including the requirement that teachers post daily lesson plans for the entire year by either June 30 or August 1 of each year, depending on which version of the bill you were looking at. It appears to have been watered down to a vague suggestion that school districts create curriculum advisory committees that parents can be on, which I’d be willing to bet most of them already have, and which one way or another is not an especially onerous change. I did enjoy this bit from the article, however:

Dawn Lang, a Fishers mom of three kids, said she likes the part of the bill that will provide her access to her school’s learning management system. She said parents are frustrated and want more transparency in their children’s education. 

Dawn Lang lives in Fishers, which is a wealthy suburb of Indianapolis, and I absolutely one hundred percent guarantee you that she already has full access to her school’s LMS. Every LMS I’ve ever seen allows parental access. My kids’ parents can see every assignment and can see their kids’ attendance and grades in real-time, and can even set things up to get alerts when I update grades. And this isn’t exactly new technology; it’s been available in my district for easily half a decade if not longer than that. She has the access; she’s either too dumb to be able to use it, in which case the law isn’t going to help her, or she’s lying, in which case the law is written specifically for people like her.

What does this mean for me? Good question! This law was going to guarantee that I wasn’t going to return to teaching next year, and while it’s always possible that some sort of fuckery will take place (the House assumes no one’s watching, restores the old language, and bounces it back to the Senate during the reconciliation process, the Senate passes the original, fucked bill, and Holcomb signs it) I don’t know that I think it’s especially likely. This year’s legislative Armageddon at least appears to be, against all expectations, dead. Will there be more fuckery next year? Yep. Sure will, and this bill wasn’t the only reason I want to leave; recall that my administrators have been fired as well, for example, and, oh, every single other thing about this year. But it means that there’s not a “have to quit by” date attached to my current career, and that I can at least take some time and see if there are other school-related jobs that I might want next year. It’s gone from an impending crisis to something that is still very much a big deal but no longer runs any risk of actual unemployment. I’ll take it.

In other news, we did have school today, although literally all but one of the other school districts within shouting distance were closed. And, honestly, as it turns out, it was a touch on the risky side but I think it was the right call. My drive home was kinda dodgy, but you can’t live through too many Indiana winters without learning how to handle “kinda dodgy,” and as the middle schools are the last to dismiss in my district, I have to assume the high schools and primary centers were able to get everybody home without any particular drama. Hell, attendance was even pretty good today, and most of the day was, unbelievably, calm. Again, I’ll take it.

Make it make sense: update

We can’t do this. The kids aren’t vaccinated. People are going to die.

That is the weekend’s data rolled together, but compare it to previous Mondays. Jesus.

Well, shit

I have, I think, an above-average number of friends who have doctoral degrees, at least for someone who doesn’t have one. This is something that having spent your twenties in grad school does to you; if you don’t actually finish your program, a lot of your friends do, and while there has never been a single second where any of my Ph.D-holding friends have looked down on me for not reaching a terminal degree (I decided not to move forward after my MA in Divinity school, having discovered that I didn’t enjoy the research nearly as much as I thought I would, and finances fell apart at the last minute for my planned doctoral work in ed school) it has always sort of rankled that I never got one myself.

Now, note how I’m phrasing that: I’m treating a doctorate like it’s something you get and put on a shelf, like a trophy or a Batman statue or some shit like that. I have no intention whatsoever of becoming a professional researcher, nor do I really want to be a college professor, so at this point even getting a doctorate in education would literally be something done to soothe my ego and nothing else. And that’s … really not a good enough reason, unless I can do it for free, and that seems unlikely.

Enter National Board certification. This is really exactly what it sounds like; teacher certification is handled on the state level, and so there’s an insane patchwork of different requirements from state to state, and some states are much more restrictive than others about who can become teachers. Moving from state to state can be a hell of a mess, especially if you go from one with low requirements to one with higher requirements. NBC circumvents all of that; it’s basically the highest level of certification a teacher can reach (as opposed to being an educational credential like an MA or a doctorate) and most states end their certification requirements with “… or you could get your National Board certification” and leave it at that.

Most states also give you a hefty salary bump when you reach that level. Indiana, unfortunately, is not one of those states, and part of the reason I’ve not gotten my NBC in the past is that Indiana wants their teachers uneducated, young and cheap and I am none of the three already. I’m kind of stuck in my current district because the way state salary guidelines work, districts aren’t allowed to recognize irrelevant things like education when determining teacher salaries any longer, and most neighboring districts won’t recognize any more than five years of service if you’re from out of district, so I’ve been stuck in this position where if I were to change districts I’d be guaranteed a pay cut. Which … nah. I do not want a pay cut. No thank you.

There was a brief informational meeting today about a new initiative my district is setting up to try and get more teachers NBC certified. Turns out they’ll pay all of the fees for the certification (about $2200, apparently, if you don’t end up having to redo anything) and while they want a cohort (certification usually takes 2-3 years) you do the certification at your own pace, so in theory you could get it done very quickly or if you needed to put parts off you could do that as well. One of the parts is subject matter knowledge, which, pff, and another is reflecting on practice, which … well, look around. You need ten essays about my teaching practice, that’ll be done in a week. So that’s half of the four domains that I really don’t think will require a lot of work on my part unless I have to learn calculus or something; I’m not sure how expansive the math test would be. (Even if it would, an excuse to relearn upper mathematics would actually be a plus.)

Someone asked the presenter at one point how many teachers in the district were already NBC-certified. The answer, which surprised the hell out of me: zero. None. There are 16,000 kids in this district and who the hell knows how many teachers. Zero? Seriously?

And suddenly, between those three things: free, at my own pace, and one of the first teachers in the district to get this certification, and I think I’m in, when I was only attending the meeting to help talk myself out of this.