Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Stupid or How a College Adjunct Got Religion

December 17, 2013 was the day I said goodbye to stupid.  I walked out of Kishwaukee College in Malta after a semester of harassment and dealing with students who could give a shit about education.

One of my English Composition I classes at Kish was a late start class, meaning it began on September 23rd rather than August 29th.  Only ten out of twenty-two students showed up the first day.  "What's going on?" I thought to myself.

Two weeks later three students were standing outside of my classroom as I walked in the door.  "Are you Mr. Wyman?" one of them asked.

"Yes I am," I replied.

"I'm ______ ______, and I'm in your English class," one of the students said.  The other two also introduced themselves.

"No, you're not in my class," I replied.  "We started class two weeks ago, and the students have done five writing assignments.  You'll never catch up!  Where were you?"

"I had some business to take care of in the city," one of the students said.

Yeah, sure you did!  I had heard the stories of Chicago Public School students showing up for class in late September and the CPS push to cajole parents into getting their kids show up the day after Labor day (the traditional first day of school in the city), but this was the first time I had seen this debacle live.

There's more.

There was a student in my other comp. class who, according to his classmates, showed up to class every day reeking of marijuana.  The class met at 2:00 p.m.  I had allowed the young man to enroll in the class at the beginning of the semester even though the class was full.

When it came time for the argumentative paper--the last major essay in the class--the student plagiarized the paper from the internet.  I had been reading his papers all semester so the difference between his argumentative paper and the other papers he had written was glaring.   I found the paper he plagiarized on the internet in five minutes.  I told him he was going to fail the class.

However, the student went to the dean, persuaded the dean to give him a medical withdrawal, and the student withdrew from the class with a full refund.

Take that, Wyman!  You lose, big boy!

Then there was the student in my journalism class at Kish who went to the dean and claimed I had made racist comments about him and that I had censored his newspaper stories.  The student had left us in the lurch by not completing two stories for the first issue of the school newspaper.  He and the editor-in-chief, the only carry-over from a train wreck of a prior newspaper staff that simply printed college press releases the previous year, had attempted to turn the new newspaper students against me.

I laughed at him. . . . at first.

The dean who had hired me at Kish was on maternity leave so I had to deal with another dean who took the Hispanic student's charges seriously.  All I could think of as I sat for hours in this stupid dean's office for hours was how Fremd principal Tom Howard would have thrown the kid out of his office if this had happened at Fremd High School.

But this was not Fremd.  This was the new world of education where students have been empowered to make-up accusations against teachers, and deans and department chairs back the students against the teachers.  The teachers are wrong; the students are right in this new world!

It's enough to make a teacher pick up his ball and go home.  And that's what I did!

This wasn't the first time Wyman got in hot water teaching college.  At Dominican University, one of my students wrote on my evaluation, "He told us we were dumber than his community college students."

When the English Department chair at Dominican was prodded by the dean to confront me on the student's comment, I told him it was true.

The chairman said, "Mr. Wyman, we are admitting students from Chicago into Dominican who have scores of 11 on their ACT tests.  These students don't need to be told they are stupid."

I guess they already know, I thought to myself.

Imagine, students going to college with an ACT score of 11!  Dominican has little remediation for these students, and from what I could see the college is passing them right through the English courses.  Heck, the football players at Miami have to have a score of 16 on the ACT.

This wasn't the same Dominican my mom had attended in 1929.  "We are a Hispanic serving institution!" the dept. chair said proudly.

Pick up your ball, Jim, and go home. 

Colleges like Kishwaukee, Dominican, and Monmouth College are struggling to find warm bodies to fill their desks.  Enrollment has dropped so the schools are actively recruiting students from the City of Chicago.  Lowering standards is the rule these days.  I had students at Monmouth who scored 32 on the ACT and others with 12s.  Imagine teaching students in that wide a range.

I had one student at Monmouth who would come in for extra  writing help.  "You wouldn't believe how bad it is in Chicago schools, Mr. Wyman," he told me.  I believe it now, Ozzie!

So I'm sitting here on this cold late spring day getting all my frustration out and wondering what the hell I'm going to do with myself.  The radio station gig doing basketball games in Galesburg ran out last week, and I don't think there's anyone pregnant at Fremd so I can't do a maternity leave.

I guess I'll just blog.

But here's a warning to all of you teachers.  Be careful what you do and say in the classroom.  The world of education is far different in 2014 than it was 30 or 40 years ago.

Stupid has won!

Teachers Unions Should Get Blame for Quinn vs. Rauner Election Campaign Fiasco

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn gives his victory speech at the Carpenters Union Hall.
As a member of both teachers unions, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) and the Illinois Education Association (IEA), I was surprised when current Illinois Governor Pat Quinn showed up for his primary election celebration at the Carpenters Union Hall in Chicago.

How could a labor union like the carpenters be endorsing a governor who supported a pension bill that screwed teachers.  The IFT is part of the AFL-CIO--same as the carpenters!  Shouldn't the carpenters join the teachers by opposing Quinn?

Then the news came out this week that the Service Employees International Union of Illinois also endorsed Quinn.

Can endorsements from the IFT and IEA be far behind?

Shouldn't these unions dump Quinn for his support of Speaker Mike Madigan's pension bill which royally screwed downstate and suburban teachers?

The wife and I crossed over in the primary, asked for Republican ballots, and voted for Kirk Dillard, the former WIU frat boy.  I was holding my nose the entire time I was in the polling booth!

As most readers know, the two teachers unions endorsed frat boy Dillard despite the fact that he is anti-gay marriage, pro-life, and pro-gun.  The ads running on downstate radio stations trumpeted Dillard's stance on all these issues, never mentioning the union support or Dillard's "no" vote on Quinn's pension bill.

Dillard lost, but teacher support closed a 20 point gap to only three percentage points.

So now we are faced with Quinn or Bruce Rauner.  What a choice!

I will never vote for Quinn or for any other politician who voted to dump the 3% cost of living adjustment for my pension.  Never!  I'll never vote for Rauner either.

So it looks like I'm sitting this election out!

Quinn will wheedle his way into the good graces of what his opponent calls the "union bosses," and teachers will crawl back and vote for the lesser of two evils.  I can hear the rhetoric from the unions now:  "Do you want another Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker?"  "Governor Quinn believes in raising the minimum wage!"  "Pat Quinn is a friend of organized labor!"


Pat Quinn is the worst political hack in the state, and that's saying something in Illinois.  I've written before about his phony populist campaigns of the 1970's when he and his entourage would arrive at the radio station in Galesburg, and the news director would literally hide in the janitor's closet so that he wouldn't have to listen to Quinn's babbling.

We teachers are the ones who helped Quinn defeat Bill Brady four years ago.  Quinn was running behind during the entire campaign.  Brady was so confident of victory he started releasing his plans for what he was going to do in Springfield prior to election day.  The polls all said Quinn was toast.

Then the teachers stepped up.  We voted for Governor Gadfly in droves in 2008, and the thanks we got was a pension bill that makes active teachers work longer for less money and screws retirees out of their 3% annual cost of living adjustment.

Who caused this mess?  I blame the teachers unions.

As far back as 2002, the teachers unions were supporting jailbird Rod Blagojevich in the primary because he was married to Chicago Alderman Dick Mell's daughter Patti.  Mel's another political hack.  The IFT and the IEA even supported Blagojevich in the 2006 election when they knew he was dirty. 

Bruce Rauner declares victory on primary election night.
Rauner talks about the back-room deals that union leaders made with the state legislators in order to boost the union leaders' pensions.  Rauner is right, and we're going to be hearing all about it during the upcoming campaign.

For example, Reg Weaver, the former IEA president, gets a Illinois Teachers Retirement (TRS) pension of $242, 657 a year, according to the Chicago Tribune.  Weaver is able to roll over his union salary into TRS.  Other state union executives have subbed one day in the classroom in order to have their union salaries rolled into TRS.  This is wrong!

All of these examples of union leaders cozying up to Illinois legislators in order to enrich themselves will be coming your way in Rauner's TV ads.  Get ready!

I always thought that union officials were supposed to be workers who did the union business out of the goodness of their hearts.  This obviously is not so.  Cinda Clickna, current IEA president, made $197,212 during the 2012-13 school year.  Clickna won't have to worry about losing her COLA with a pension like she'll have.  The rest of us?  We're blankin' worried!

So until the teachers unions clean up their acts and put their own houses in order, I'm going back to my WIU days and proclaim myself a GDI--God Damned Independent!