Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Crack In the Math/Science/Engineering Wall

Should idiocy like this take hold, higher education will fall apart.  Real, normal people will not agree to fund such nonsense with their tax dollars:
The leader of Purdue University’s School of Engineering Education recently declared that academic “rigor” reinforces “white male heterosexual privilege.”

Donna Riley, who previously taught engineering at Smith College for 13 years, published an article in the most recent issue of the journal Engineering Education, arguing that academic rigor is a “dirty deed” that upholds “white male heterosexual privilege.

Defining rigor as “the aspirational quality academics apply to disciplinary standards of quality,” Riley asserts that “rigor is used to maintain disciplinary boundaries, with exclusionary implications for marginalized groups and marginalized ways of knowing.”
Note that the author previously taught at Smith College. 'Nuf said.

They Can't Be Too Worried About Global Warming

Pay attention not to what they say, but what they do:
This weekend, 25,000 Earth, Sun, and planetary scientists from across the US and abroad flew to New Orleans for the annual American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting. These scientists study the impact global warming is having on Earth. Unfortunately, their air travel to and from the meeting will contribute to that warming by emitting around 30,000 tonnes of CO2.

As an Earth scientist and AGU member myself, I know the importance of their work. Still, there’s something wrong with this picture. As scientists, our work informs us – with dreadful clarity and urgency – that burning fossil fuel is destroying the life support systems on our planet. There’s already more than enough science to know we need to stop. Yet most scientists burn more than the average American, simply because they fly more.

Milton Friedman Discusses Hayek's Road To Serfdom

Here's The Road to Serfdom in 5 minutes.

Heard On The Radio On The Way To Work This Morning

An accident was causing a traffic backup, an accident between a car and--a mountain lion.

Yes, boys and girls, we still have mountain lions here in California.

My school abuts a greenbelt along a river.  It's well known that mountain lions--which almost never attack humans--live, breed, and hunt in that greenbelt.  It's wild to think that such animals live in our urban and suburban areas, but they do. 

The accident this morning occurred in a semi-rural area, one of those areas that used to be rural but has been developed in the last decade or so to have neighborhoods of large houses for the well-to-do.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Liveblogging Today's Army-Navy Game

There appears to be a dusting of snow on the ground in Philadelphia.  I don't recall being at an Army-Navy game with snow, but that would just add to the fun, no?  OK, probably not for the people in the stands, but for two option teams, I'm wondering if the ball will be slippery enough not to risk even the few passes both teams might attempt.

Of course I'm rooting for Army to win.  Everything I've read gives Army the slightest advantage.  But anything can happen in this game, and often does.  I want a good game--and I want an Army victory.  I want many opportunities to jump up and yell my two favorite words, TOUCHDOWN ARMY!

I'll periodically update this throughout the game.  I haven't been to a game in many years, and this is as close as I'll get for awhile.  At least I'll get to enjoy it in the temperate environment of Northern California as opposed to the cold of the eastern seaboard.  Bring it on, and BEAT NAVY!

(all times PST)
12:00  What an awesome invocation!

12:03  Good job on the national anthem by the combined glee clubs.  Snow's falling lightly but steadily.  The announcers say it's supposed to get worse as the game progresses.

12:12  I think Navy wins with uniform battle.  Heck, you can't even see the army team on the field, what with the snow and Army's ghost-white 10th Mountain Division uniforms!

12:17  Whew, Army gets a 1st down on their first possession.  And then a long run down the right sideline!

12:21  4th and 1 on the 5, first and goal!!!


12:29  Navy quarterback keeps getting good yardage on his runs from scrimmage.

12:33  Navy converts on 4th and 1.

12:35  4th down again, about 2 yards to go, inside the red zone.  What will Navy do?  Timeout....

12:38  With less than a minute left in the 1st quarter, Army leads 7-3.  There hasn't been a penalty yet on either side.

12:44  I brought up the penalty issue, then the announcers did--and then a Navy defender held, which gave Army a first down.

12:51  Navy defense holds, the punt is short, Navy takes over on about their own 25.

12:56  Damn, Navy quarterback runs 68 yards for a touchdown.

1:04  Navy held again, good punt, Navy's ball.

1:12  Too gimicky a play, Navy punts and downs it at the Army 37-yard line.

1:16  The long overcoats on the cadets in the stands look soaked.  They're going to smell like wet sheep for awhile.

1:18  3rd and 6, the Army quarterback slips and falls for a loss.  Gotta punt again.

1:19  5:22 left in the half, Navy 1st and 10 on the 20.

1:22 Army defense holds, bringing up 4th and 2.  And damn, Army gets its first penalty--giving Navy a 1st down.  As the president would say, YUGE.

1:24  Army defense brings up 4th down again.  Navy tried to draw Army offsides, but that isn't gonna work twice.  Navy takes it's last timeout with just over a dozen seconds left in the half.  Remember, though, that Navy receives the kickoff in the 2nd half.

1:27  Navy punt almost dies at the 1, but it's a touchback.  9 seconds remaining.

1:29  An 8-yard run by Army ends the half.  Navy leads 10-7.


1:52  Navy starts off the half with good runs, just like the last half.

1:54  Another long run for Navy, looks like 1st and goal at the 10.

1:57  4th and 6, defense holds, field goal is good from 24.  Navy 13-7.

2:00  Army kickoff returner runs into a brick wall at the 20.  1st and 10.

2:06  Holy crap, Army completes a pass for a 1st down!

2:07  Good long run by the Army quarterback, 1st and 10 on the 35.  FB then runs for 9 more.  Showing some spark for the first time since the 1st quarter.

2:11  Army is just being tough up front.  1st and 10 at the 11.

2:13  Damn.  False start, 3rd and 13.  Really bad time for a penalty.

2:14  Timeout in place of another penalty.  Geez.  Choking here, Army!  Recover during this timeout, come back and score.  It's been too long since I've gotten to yell my two favorite words

2:17  End around loses yards, gonna try for the field goal.

2:17  Third quarter ends with Navy leading 13-7.

2:22  35 or so yard field goal is about a yard to the right.  What a letdown after such a strong drive.

2:26  It's not much, but I'll take a false start on Navy's first possession of the 4th quarter.  Then it was the Navy runner's turn to run into a brick wall!

2:28  Defense does a good job.  4th and long, Navy will punt.

2:29  Army tried to block the punt so there was no return, 1st and 10 Army from about their own 30.

2:33  Army offense is showing toughness up front again.

2:34  4 plays, 3 first downs.  Not bad.

2:36  Army back in the red zone!

2:38  First and goal!

2:39  Darn near the first option play for Army, almost dropped for a loss, down at the 1!!!

2:42  After a lengthy review, the ball is placed at the 1/2 yard line.  3rd and goal.

2:43  Took a long time for the officials to undo the pile, but when they did, TOUCHDOWN ARMY!  And with the PAT, army leads 14-13 with 5:10 left in the game.

2:46  It's still commercials, ugh.  I'm glad I don't have a blood pressure problem, because if I did, this game would cause my heart to explode!

2:48  Bad kick goes out of bounds, 1st and 10 at the 35.

2:52  There hasn't been a turnover yet in this game.  In snow.  That's pretty impressive.  And geez, the announcer just made the same comment about turnovers!

2:53  Almost just had the first one.  Navy center snaps the ball to no one, quick thinking by the quarterback (?) resulted in a loss of only 2 yards.

2:56  In one play, Navy got a 1st down.  Sheesh.

2:57  3rd and 4.  Come on, defense, HOLD!

2:58  Excellent tackle! 4th and a few, this could be for all the marbles.  If Army gets the ball back here, they might could run the clock out.

3:00  Army takes a timeout.  Both teams are now down to 1 timeout apiece.  Still 4th and 3.

3:02  Holy crap.  QB bobbled the ball, the play breaks down--and he still gets a 1st down.  1st and 10 at the 25.

3:04  Two false starts for Navy now has them at 3rd and 16.  Would be a long field goal....

3:06  The clock showed over 20 minutes left in the 4th quarter, now it's fixed at only 20 seconds left.  Army held, Navy will kick a field goal with 3 seconds left.


3:14  Time for Army's Alma Mater, and then, for the first time in over 20 years, Army will receive the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.

3:15  Good lord, different groups of cadets were singing on their own cadence.  The words weren't matching the music.  How embarrassing.

3:17  Are these guys going to get to visit President Trump to receive the trophy?  So much better than seeing his predecessor!!!

3:21  When did this "sing second" become a thing?  While I'm sure the winning team probably sang second back in my day, I don't remember it being "a thing".  We just sang when the band played our Alma Mater.

What a great game.  I'm starting to get my breath back.  So many text messages coming in.  Whew, total nailbiter!  Great game.

How Long Have I Been Warning About This?

From the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board:
Republican plans to slash the state-and-local tax deduction are already reaping benefits in high-tax states. Democrats in the Northeast say they’re having second thoughts about raising taxes. And lo and behold, California Gov. Jerry Brown is arguing that public pensions aren’t ironclad...

Republicans in high-tax states say that abolishing the state-and-local tax deduction is unfair since lawmakers are legally barred from reducing government pensions and thus have no choice but to raise taxes to pay for them. But nearly every state court faced with the issue has upheld modifications.

The real problem is political, not legal. Democrats don’t want to renege on promises to their union friends and financiers. Mr. Brown isn’t running for re-election, so he may feel liberated. But perhaps other Democrats will be more motivated if their wealthy denizens raise a ruckus and leave their states.  (boldface mine--Darren)
If more teachers understood this, perhaps they wouldn't be so reflexively socialist, would celebrate the stock market, and would want businesses to do well--because our retirement is invested in the stock market.  Click here to read many of the posts I've written about California's Teacher Retirement System.

If you don't want to sign in at the WSJ to read the editorial excerpted above, read the whole thing here.

This Will Not Be On My Amazon Wish List

You've got to be kidding me:
According to one U.K. company, your Christmas decorations just aren't complete without an "angel" at the top of your Christmas tree — and why settle for a regular blessed harbinger of the Word of God when you can have....Hillary Clinton?

The company, Women To Look Up To, considers itself a brand that "shines a light on modern female role models,” and to that extent, they've developed a line of "She-Ro" tree toppers, so that you can literally look up to a handful of "badass women" that they think deserve to sit at the top of your Christmas tree more than the Holy chorus that announced the birth of the Christ child.

The line already included tennis pro Serena Williams and pop icon Beyonce, but a contest for the next edition, held earlier this year, produced the Clinton angel, which is available from Women To Look Up To for around fifty bucks.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

They Will Keep Asking The Question Until We Give The Answer They Want Us To Give

A few years ago, after California adopted the Common Core standards, our district suits pondered whether we should keep our traditional algebra-geometry-algebra pathway or change to an integrated math pathway.  Actually, they didn't ponder at all, the decision was made as soon as someone came up with the idea, but I'll come back to that.  Anyway, a meeting was held at the district office, and dozens of math teachers from our middle and high schools came.  Only three teachers voted to change to the integrated pathway--two from our lowest performing school, saying, "Our kids are so low we're willing to try anything", and one who liked the old CPM program and wanted to return to it.  The rest of us were adamant:  NO.

The rationale given for the "potential" change was this:  "If we switch to Common Core but keep the traditional pathway, our teachers won't change the way they teach.  If we make this major switch, they might be more willing to change how they teach."

Right there, that's two slaps in the face for the math teachers in our district.  Everything's the teachers' fault.

Last year there was a "listening circle" in which students in Integrated Math 1 were brought in to discuss what might be done to improve the program.  The students were clear, they wanted a real textbook, as opposed to the paperback fill-in-the-blank monstrosities we issue them.  That comment, the most common comment from students, was conveniently left out of the listening circle's summary report.

Another slap in the face.

This week all the math teachers in my district got an email from a district suit.  We were told that our district is contracting with an organization that will help determine what is wrong with the math program in our district, and we need to click on a link and take a survey from this vendor.  Did they ask the math teachers what would help improve things?  When I was a manufacturing manager, if we had quality problems on a particular line, I'd ask the operator what the problem was.  They could usually tell me, and as often as not would provide a solution. But my district didn't ask the math teachers what can be done, they went straight to a consultant.

That's a fourth slap in the face.

The survey itself was a treat.  The questions included gems like, "What professional development do you need in order to do a better job?" and "Do you feel competent to teach ?"

At the end was the perfunctory "Please put in any additional comments here" box, and boy, did I.  The problem is that no one will read it, and no one will care.  My comments are not wanted or needed, because whatever they're going to do, the decision has already been made.  My district has made me cynical enough to believe that whatever it is they're doing, it's only window dressing so they can say they're "doing something".

Our integrated math program is a shambles, but I don't think it's because our district's math teachers are bad teachers.  Partly it's because integrated math makes about as much sense as integrated science or integrated foreign language, part of is because our textbook adoption process is an abomination, partly it's because the rules imposed on us (e.g., all Integrated 1, 2, and 3 books must come from the same publisher) force us to buy lousy books, and partly it's because the math isn't as "integrated" as it is "hodge-podge".

They've told me to dig a hole, but only gave me a screwdriver with which to do it.  Now they're asking what professional development I need in order to do a better job at digging holes with screwdrivers.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Will A Lawsuit Change Anything?

I don't know enough about California's ELA standards which, if they're like the math standards, are Common Core standards with extra California goodies grafted onto them.  Neither do I know what the problem is, why so many California students can't read:
A group of prominent lawyers representing teachers and students from poor performing schools sued California on Tuesday, arguing that the state has done nothing about a high number of schoolchildren who do not know how to read.

The advocacy law firm, Public Counsel, filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court to demand the California Department of Education address its "literacy crisis." The state has not followed suggestions from its own report on the problem five years ago, the lawsuit said.

"When it comes to literacy and the delivery of basic education, California is dragging down the nation," said Public Counsel lawyer Mark Rosenbaum, who sued along with the law firm Morrison & Foerster.

Assessments found less than half of California students from third grade to fifth grade have met statewide literacy standards since 2015. Both traditional and charter schools are failing, Rosenbaum said.

Of the 26 lowest-performing districts in the nation, 11 are in California, according to the lawsuit. Texas, the largest state after California, has only one district among the 26.
Of course, this lack of knowledge won't prevent me from offering up a few ideas!  While the problem clearly starts in elementary school, our high school teachers don't get a pass on it.  I remember learning grammar all the way through high school, but grammar isn't sexy enough today.  No, we need to keep reading and writing, not doing the grunt work of actually teaching the construction of our language. 

Don't forget that California went whole hog into "whole language" in the 1990s; how many of our teachers, school and district administrators, and state level education workers still buy into that discredited philosophy?

Is teaching to the state standards a requirement or is it merely strongly encouraged?

Do too many teachers see themselves as social workers first and teachers second?

How many teachers practice "the soft bigotry of low expectations", especially for minority and/or poor students?

So that's a lot of digs at my own profession.  How about a few ideas regarding tying our hands behind our backs?

I wrote recently about suspending, or rather not suspending, misbehaving students.  How big a role does lack of discipline in schools have in a lack of education?

How big a problem is not having "newcomer" classes for recent immigrants?  Just like you couldn't plop me down in a school in Uzbekistan and expect me to do well--no matter how much "realia" the instructor used, or no matter how much vocabulary the instructor "previewed"--it's not reasonable to put newcomers into classes (especially in high school!) and somehow, magically, expect the student's hard work and the teacher's charisma to somehow generate effective education!  Sorry, but Google Translate isn't a good option here.  Give the kids a fighting chance, teach them some English before you put them in classes (again, especially in high school).

Are we being compelled to use techniques besides direct instruction to teach reading?

It's darned embarrassing that California has several of the lowest performing districts in the nation, far more than our fair share.  Something is wrong, but correcting it would require someone to admit a political mistake, and good luck with that ever happening.  (Gerund rule?  Sounds too stilted.)

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Leftie Tolerance

No one who's paid attention is surprised by this.  Heck, I'm not even surprised she said it publicly:
Isn't it funny how top Democrats love to talk about "tolerance" and "compassion" when they are, in fact, the least tolerant and least compassionate people out there? Take this tweet from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for instance:
It's always wonderful to see liberals talk about the people as if they were some kind of collective with shared interests. That's nonsense, of course. Some people benefit from this policy, others from that one. The belief that "the people" are somehow one — and united — has caused major suffering worldwide. Just think about North Korea. The Soviet Union. Mao's China. "Modern" Venezuela. And Cuba. In every single one of those countries, leaders talk about "the people" constantly, while expanding their own personal power. One of their favorite tools? Sending opponents off to the gulag/prison/concentration camps.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Pelosi tells California Republicans who dare support President Trump's tax bill to leave the state. Stalin, Mao, Castro, Kim, and Chavez would have agreed. Send them off to the gulag!

On Many Campuses, Anti-racism = Racism

From a "student of color and the gay son of refugee immigrants":
Even though the event was billed as a day of anti-racism, what I witnessed was, quite frankly, racism. Until that day, I’d never seen people overtly dehumanized and treated as racialized objects – amplified through the use of words like “bodies” to refer to people of color. I left the event wondering if the sum of my worth was on an identity I was born into.

Since continuing my education, I’ve come to quickly learn that on campuses today, racism no longer means what I understood it to be all my life. According to critical race theorists, who permeate academe and its administration, racism is not ethnic prejudice and discrimination but rather prejudice and institutional power. Because whites have institutionalized privilege, they say it is impossible for them to be victims of racism. In this worldview, I should be alarmed when prejudicial sentiment is hurled at some, but not all, of my peers.

I demurred...

As I’ve witnessed in 2015 and have seen repeated countless times since then, the lack of any ideological counterpoise has created a vacuum where ideas have no mechanism or incentive for moderation.
No one who's paid attention is surprised by this.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Dual Credit Classes

Sacramento State University has a dual credit program called ACE--Accelerated College Entrance.  If a high school can get a course ACE approved, then enrolled students who pass that course can get units at Sac State.

I'm told that Sac State's math department has never approved a course for ACE.  I'm also told that part of the reason is their belief that if a student gets college credit, he/she should be taught by a college-eligible teacher.  In other words, an ACE approved math class should be taught by a teacher with a master's degree--and not one in education, either.

Last May I finished a Master of Arts in Teaching Math program through the University of Idaho.  It consisted of 8 math classes and 2 education classes (I chose testing/assessment and educational philosophy, both of which were exceptional courses).  I absolutely meet the requirements to teach math in our local community college district, but I'm not sure if my M.A.T. Math degree qualifies me to teach at Sac State.

I submitted my statistics course for ACE approval.  I'm still waiting to hear back, but I'm told that if anyone in my district stands a chance at getting a math class ACE approved, it's me.  Cross your fingers for me!

That was a rather lengthy lead-in to an Education Week article called Four Ways to Build a Good Program for College Credit in High School, lifted here in its entirety:
Programs that offer high school students the chance to earn college credit should be designed with four key principles in mind to ensure high quality, according to a report released Thursday.

The popularity of dual-enrollment courses and other programs that confer college credit has soared in recent years. But as their popularity has grown, so has awareness of their problems. Weak courses that don't measure up to college standards. A patchwork of varying requirements for teachers who teach them. Disappointment when promised credits don't transfer.

These are among the concerns that led the College Board to convene a "College Credit in High School Working Group" to study the field and come up with nuts-and-bolts advice to help program designers avoid potential problems. The group, which includes some powerhouse names in education policy, issued its report today.

Its guidance falls into four categories of questions that can be used to shape programs:
  • Rigor and accountability. Programs should be able to demonstrate that students who earn college credit in high school have indeed mastered college-level work. This means showing that a student who got college credit in English can perform as well as a college student in an equivalent course. Data about those outcomes should be shared with the public. Programs also must ensure that teachers are qualified to teach college-level courses.
  • Value for time and money invested. To ensure a sound investment, policymakers should study outcomes to see whether dual-credit students are progressing through college and participating in the workforce. To fulfill a promise that dual-credit programs can save students money, states should examine course-credit transfer policies.
  • Equity and access. Programs should ensure equal access by all students. Recent studies have found that low-income and racial minority students, and boys, don't take advantage of dual-enrollment programs as often as other students do. Programs must do a better job of informing notifying students and parents of the opportunity, the College Board paper says.
  • Transparency about credit transfer. Students "should be clearly informed ahead of time" about whether their credits will transfer to the college they plan to attend, and whether those credits will be applied to their chosen course of study. High schools, employers, and higher education must collaborate to design dual-enrollment programs, so the "content and skills that high school students learn are aligned with what colleges and employers expect and that credits transfer appropriately."
Those seem like reasonable enough criteria.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Suspending Students

I believe this article is full of crap.  I don't hear teachers at other schools talking about "preventing" student misbehavior, I only hear about students' getting away with (figurative) murder because they know there are no consequences:
Local public schools suspended and expelled far fewer students last year as they continued to shift away from punishment and toward prevention and positive reinforcement, according to the latest figures from the California Department of Education...

Similar stories have played out across the region. Each of the 10 largest districts suspend a lower proportion of students today than five years ago.
There's a simple reason for this.  We're told we can't suspend students; if we do, we run this risk of being investigated by the Office of Civil Rights, having a drumhead trial, being found guilty--and the penalties for district and school administrators can be extreme.

And students, especially students who cause trouble, know this.

The Left's Drive For Power

Is America undergoing a great awakening in light of the deluge of sex scandals that are now coming to light? Are we seeing a revival of that old-time religion of chastity, purity, and self-control? One would think so as liberals, who once laughed at sexual improprieties, clapped as sinners danced in the streets, and pointed fingers at accusers on national television, are now offering mea culpas and purging all ranks with the fervor of medieval inquisitors.

It certainly looks like a change for good. But don’t be fooled. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Whether it's stripping Matt Lauer of his former glory or firing up the torches in the Roy Moore election, the goal of the Left is not purity, but power. This fact does not negate the reality of transgressions or the possibilities of criminality in individual cases, but anyone who values both goodness and freedom in this country needs to be wise as serpents. We’re not seeing a revival of virtue in America. We’re seeing a resistance to it.

For true national repentance, there needs to be recognition of objective standards that allow for any of these judgments to be made in the first place. There’s not. We’re not seeing careful consideration of how we got to this point — the abandonment of God as the source of all moral authority or, at the very least, a common recognition of natural law and traditional social norms.

Instead, we are seeing navel-gazing about how to rethink sex, what to do about the brutality of masculinity, and how to delegitimize conservatives who have been accused of abandoning character for political expediency.

Leftists aren’t embracing morality; they’re looking for a way to reclaim the moral authority they lost after past decades of materialism, creeping totalitarianism, and moral bankruptcy. Like fools drunk from their own power, they slipped out of their self-appointed divine seat as arbiters of morals and truth, and they’re now reclaiming it by whatever means necessary. They’re not humbling themselves before the true Moral Authority. They’re replacing it with their own.
I have nothing to add to that except for "read the whole thing" and "Amen".

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Bad Christmas Songs

I was reading an article about Christmas songs that should be buried forever, and this one was on the list.

I remember New Kids on the Block, but I didn't listen to their music. Was all of it this bad?  Ohmigawd, this is painful!

There is a radio station here in the Sacramento area that, starting Thanksgiving, plays nonstop Christmas music until New Year's.  Since there isn't a lot of new Christmas music coming out, this station plays the same songs over and over and over and over again.  I've pretty much decided which songs I can't stand, here are some of them:

Christmas Shoes.  Seriously, it's a song about a kid's mom dying, and that's somehow supposed to be a Christmas song?

Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.  I just don't get redneck humor, I guess.  And if the tune is catchy, it's only catchy like an alligator's mouth.

Feliz Navidad.  Again.  And again. And again.  It's in Spanish, I get it.  And again.

Do you have any non-favorites?  List them in the comments!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Can't Believe It's December Already

We started school the 2nd week of August.  Seriously.

We got a random Friday off in October.  From what I understand, some genius in our district administration determined that October is when teachers start taking 3 day weekends, so the district decided to give us a 3 day weekend so we wouldn't just take a Friday off (substitutes can get very scarce on Fridays); I heard that plenty of teachers across the district just took that Thursday off and made it a 4 day weekend instead!

Our semester ends the Thursday before Christmas, instead of Friday.  Nice.

We get another "please just take this Friday off instead of requiring a substitute" Friday off in April, and school ends early in the week in June instead of the end of the week.  By my reckoning that accounts for the 5 days early we started this year, as we would usually start a week later in August.

There are 4 school weeks (minus that last Friday) between Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks.  After tomorrow we'll have one week down, three to go.  Two of those weeks will be "regular" weeks, and the last one will be final exams week.

In 2 of the 3 courses I teach, I excuse students from the final exam if they have a 97% course average going into the final.  I'm not known as an easy grader--fair, but not easy--but I have several students each year that don't have to take my final exam.  Reward for them for a job well done, slack for me because that's fewer finals I have to grade.  And no, I don't do Scantron tests.  There are things that can be learned from the results of a Scantron test, but not enough in math for me to justify giving them.  I give bona fide tests, and I grade each one.

We teachers go back to work the Monday after New Year's, but our students don't show up until Tuesday.  That Monday is a work day for us; we grade our finals, enter grades, and take a long, leisurely lunch that day.

And a week or so later is the Dr. King (birthday) Holiday.  And less than a month after that is our February President's (nee, Ski) Week holiday.

I don't mind teaching in the cold months so much.  Lots of time off!  Last week I had a week off, and in 3 more weeks I'll have another 2 weeks off. I can't believe it's December already!