Week Two

Well, people, I made it through my first week of credentialing. Only… 80 more weeks to go by my count. Give or take.

I think I’ll put up one of those countdown thingamajigs on my blog home page. So I can look at it every day and be encouraged.

(Or discouraged. It’s all in how you look at it, you know.)

Thought I would share my final essay with you all here, on what I learned about the No Child Left Behind Act. Then those of you who are educators (the three of you? Paul? Sarah? Chris’ mom?) can give me your thoughts. Do you agree? Think I’m completely wrong? I’m open to constructive criticism.

If you are not an educator, and don’t care about this one teeny tiny bit, please feel free to skip ahead to the end for more blog-like stuff.

Reflections on No Child Left Behind
    There is no dispute that students who attend schools in communities characterized by lower income living have been found to perform poorly compared to those in richer neighborhoods: the research is there to back this finding. The debate lies in the best way to handle this problem. The current solution propagated by the federal government is the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), a piece of legislature founded in 2002. The concept behind the NCLB is to create an education system in which all students in all grades—regardless of family income level or ethnicity—will be proficient in the subjects of reading and math by the 2013-2014 school year. The NCLB utilizes a system of standardized testing to ensure every student is progressing to meet the set standard each year, as well as sets the description for a “highly qualified teacher” and keeps schools accountable as to progression of each subgroup in the school.
    While the idea behind the No Child Left Behind Act is founded upon a genuine need—keeping children at an economic disadvantage from slipping through the educational cracks—it is my opinion the laws that comprise the act leave much to be desired in the areas of implementation and funding. Specifically, I find concern in the following topics: the consequences for schools unable to bring their students to the new standard, and the responsibilities of student achievement placed on the teacher, school, and district.
    Under the NCLB, schools have two years to meet the student standards set forth under the law. These standards are called the Annual Yearly Progress (AYP), a measurement of improvement meant to chart the progress of students each year up to 2014, the year all students should be proficient in reading and math. If, after two consecutive years, a school has not shown the desired progress, it is placed into the group of “Schools in Need of Improvement,” or SINOI. Once deemed a SINOI school, the institute in question begins its journey down one of two paths: it can bring itself back up to meet the legislative standard or it can continue to fall deeper from the mark. Sadly, due to the way AYP standards are set up, many critics of the law believe most schools will be marked as a SINOI school at some point or another (Johnson, Musial, Hall, and Gollnick, 2011).
    The consequences of remaining a SINOI school can be severe: depending on the number of years a school maintains this status, the school may face the replacement of staff members, the implementation of new curriculum, or a complete restructure of the school (Johnson, et al., 2011). At the rate in which schools are failing to meet AYP, it is just a number of years before all schools will be forced to implement these serious changes—a requirement that is just not fiscally feasible in this current economy.
    The NCLB has also left its mark in determining what qualifies an appropriately licensed teacher for Title 1 schools. There are three main criteria for a “Highly Qualified Teacher”: he or she must be certified by the state, have a bachelor’s degree, and be able to pass a state-approved test to prove competency in the subject he or she will teach. No longer will those with emergency or temporary credentials be allowed to take on a full-time teaching role; every class must have a teacher who meets the highest qualifications.  This mandate, of any other in the NCLB legislation, is the one that should be addressed, and the only one, it seems, with any likelihood of being able to be carried out properly.
    However, even the most highly qualified teacher cannot bring out the best work in all students, and this is where the NCLB completely misses the mark. If student outcomes are now the sole responsibility of the school administration, what responsibility is left to the student? It is no secret that schools are filled with plenty of students who simply do not care about standardized test scores. Yet the NCLB places all emphasis on the school’s faculty, the school’s curriculum, and the school’s administration practices. For this act to work, student buy-in of their own education is a must.
    No Child Left Behind is not without its positive aspects. In Ask the Teacher, author Mark Ryan lists some promised benefits of the act: “stronger accountability by testing, freedom for states and communities to make decisions on standards ad proficiencies, encouraging proven research-based educational methods, and more choices for parents” (136-137). While these proposed benefits sound good, the cost to implement such lofty goals are currently too high for the U.S. government, and no matter how great a reform package it may be, without the necessary funding it simply cannot work properly (Ryan, 2008).
    Criticism continues to rage over the No Child Left Behind Act. Proponents of the act look forward to the inclusion of all students in the proficient range, regardless of background. On the other side, those against argue the unrealistic approaches the act enforces. Perhaps the NCLB be better played out over a longer period of time, with less severe consequences for schools unable to bring every student up to standard. Regardless, the act does not seem to be working now, and will more likely need to undergo improvement itself in order to prove effective in changing today’s education practices.


Johnson, J.A, Musial, D., Hall, G.E, Gollnick, D.M. (2011). Foundations of American 

    Education (15th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Ryan, M. (2008). Ask the Teacher (2nd ed.). Pearson Education, Inc.

Aside from getting my behind kicked by schoolwork, here’s what else I’ve been up to:

March 10, Wednesday: Spent the morning grading math at the Woodman classroom and keeping an eye on the parking lot for the little lost dog that’s been showing up this week. Michelle and I are trying to save it. Spent the afternoon going through books with no library cards, creating a list of books with no library cards, and beginning the tedious task of making library cards for the list of books with no library cards.

PS: I love tedious activities. No joke. Bill (who I work for at Sorrento Mesa office, and who’s in charge of all the inventory) laughed when I said this. He thought I was being sarcastic. And then I had to tell him the story about how when I worked at Target no one would touch the cosmetics aisle, and I loved working the cosmetics aisle. 

I like organizing things way too much.

And now I’m at Chris’, not getting my homework done, and waiting for him to come home so we can go grocery shopping and to WalMart to get new windshield wipers for my care. (We’re so romantic that way!)

March 9, Tuesday: School. No Sorrento Mesa. Came home and read, read, read. Fell asleep reading.

March 8, Monday: Taught reciprocals and negative exponents to Nephi. Went through the whole lesson with him complaining the whole time about  how long it takes to do one dang problem like that. When I decided he’d had enough, I pointed out the whole relation between the reciprocal and negative exponents, and showed him how, if he just remembered that one simple rule, he wouldn’t have to go work out the problem, he’d just know what it was supposed to be off the top of his head. It took a few more rounds, but finally we came to the point where, when we started a new section, he stared at the problem for a few seconds, before raising his head and saying suspiciously, “Hey, wait a minute….” And then he got the next 4 done in about ten seconds. Success!

We also had TV Monday that night. Don’t think anything exciting happened.

March 6 &7, Saturday & Sunday: We headed up to Chris’ parents’ Saturday morning to celebrate Sarah’s birthday with their family, Kris and Becky, and Kris’ parents, the Cowen’s. Mr. Cowen likes to tease me, but I’m pretty sure I’m growing on him with the whole, “Hey, look! I’m going to be a math teacher, too!” thing. 

Good times.

So Sarah got everything she asked for, which wasn’t much, and then some. Mrs. T tried her hand at making ice cream cake, and it turned out fabulous. Even Chris had like three pieces,and that boy is not a cake person. 

Sunday we went to church with Chris’ parents and heard a hysterical guy talk about the intensity of the labor and birth of his first child, and let me tell you, if I didn’t understand the whole cute cuddly baby part that you get afterward, it probably would have scared me off real good. “Don’t look at the needle.” That was his mantra. He kept repeating it. And then holding out his arms to indicate just how big that needle is. 


After church we were off to Disneyland, sadly not with Brittany and Ryan, who’d gotten into a minor car accident on the way up. Minor as in they weren’t hurt, but not minor enough that Brittany’s car made it out unscathed. So they were missed. 

And we really didn’t do much anyway. I renewed my pass for free (which was great), we watched the EO tribute (lame), walked through the Innoventions house again (we are so getting one of those kitchens), rode Thunder Mountain in the dark and from the back of the train (the best combo), got our free tortillas from the Tortilla Factory (corn again… disappointed), our free bread from the bakery (yummier than normal, perhaps to make up for the corn tortillas), and then to the Blue Sky Cellar to see the latest on the California Adventures renovations (World of Color = almost complete, but they’re still not releasing the official date). When I type it all out like that, it sounds like we did a lot, but it was pretty slow for Disney. Chris and I ditched Sarah (on her birthday!) around 8:30 to make it home at a reasonable hour, and though I tried so hard not to fall asleep on him, I eventually drifted off around Del Mar (so close!).

And… I really can’t remember much of last week other than studying the No Child Left Behind laws, so looks like we’ll be stopping there. I’ve been trying harder to remember to record the daily happenings, but life’s gotten so crazy busy lately it’s been hard. Fortunately I’ve got some great inspiration to remind me why it’s so important to take the time to remember all the little things….


Do you know the way to San Jose?

Because we do! In fact, that’s where we are right now!

Road Trip 2009 has begun. Faithful readers may remember a brief mention awhile back about Ryan’s brilliant idea to travel north for a viewing of Spring Awakening (which we all know is our favorite) and a new musical based on Green Day’s American Idiot songs (which just so happens to feature three actors from the New York Broadway cast).

Well, the weekend has finally come. The others began their day by meeting us in Anaheim at seven this morning, but Chris and I came up a day early to celebrate his birthday at Disneyland (and collect $72 in Disney money since he’s got a pass). We both had to work the first part of the day, so making it up for our 3:30 Blue Bayou reservation was a little stressful… but luckily we made it with ten minutes to spare! (Unluckily we chose not to use those spare ten minutes to run to Space Mountain for fast passes, but that’s a different story.)

The Blue Bayou was pretty fantastic. Expensive. But fantastic. It’s a nice break from the hustle of the park, and any place that keeps bringing me rolls and butter is a happy place for me. Because of the price, we split a main meal- the jambalaya dish- which was excellent, and came with one of my new favorite restaurant salads (even rivaling Olive Garden’s!). Chris got a chocolate mousse automatically for being born on that day, so I ordered tiramisu (which is what he really wanted), and we switched. Well, the waitress knew what our plan was, I think, and she switched them when she came back to the table, and put the birthday candle in Chris’ tiramisu (which came in an adorable ceramic Mickey Halloween cup that Chris then had to carry around the rest of the day).

Sadly, when we had finished and made it back to Tomorrowland, the fast passes were all gone. Dang it. So we had to wait in line for an hour and a half to go on the new and improved Halloween style Space Mountain. Which really wasn’t that great, and actually kind of demonic feeling for Disneyland.

We hit up Haunted Mansion next, and we saw the cutest Halloween costume ever on a little kid in the elevator. He was dressed like Boo from Monsters Inc., and all you could see was his little face peeking out from the blue monster outfit. He. Was. Adorable. That is totally going to be my kid’s first costume. (Yes, Jedi got bumped to second.)

So that was our first day of vacation. This morning we met the others at Disneyland and headed up to San Jose. Got here in record time, and now we’re all just chilling and starting to get ready for dinner and then the amazing Spring Awakening tour cast. We’ve got our cute theater clothes, our Spring Awakening books, multi-colored Sharpies, and the hopes to get upgraded to better, closer, and maybe even onstage, seats!

A Day at Disney

Well, more like a quarter of a day. Because Chris and I didn’t even leave until around 11:30, and then we had to stop at Fossil in Carlsbad to repair his watch, and then a WalMart a little further up the road for me to pick up some knock-off Uggs since it was already getting chilly at noon, and I had come dressed for summer in my flip flops.

But finally we made it there. We watched the Jedi training, where they take all the little kids from the audience, teach them how to use a “training” light saber, and then let Darth Vader loose on the crowd of five-year-olds. (This is not an exaggeration. And it is awesome to watch.) We tried to go for Space Mountain after that, but the fast passes were already gone, and we didn’t want to wait in the 90 minute line just yet, even though Space Mountain has been tricked out for Halloween.

Instead we headed to Buzz Lightyear, where Chris told me he was going to beat me soundly and that I’d better not cry about it. Well, he did beat me, and I lost my lens cap on the ride, too! Boo! Luckily, we went back and they’d found my lens cap (and a few other brands of caps too- they tried to send me off with a Minolta), and we played again and I kicked his behind soundly that time. To be fair, his laser genuinely wasn’t working properly, so I suppose I shouldn’t really call it a win. I’ll call it a slap of humility instead. Sometimes boys need those.

We took off for California Adventures and the Toy Story ride next, and this time I really did beat him, by a whopping 20,000 points I might add. I couldn’t feel my arm afterward, but it was so totally worth it. We walked over to Tower of Terror, one of Chris’ favorites, just as it was getting dark, and got the rush that comes only from being dropped weightlessly four or five stories.

Headed back to Space Mountain, only to find the ride was still about 85 minutes. We made the executive decision to call it a day and head out to La Brea, the cute bakery in Downtown Disney, for bread bowls and soup/chili. Except they had run out of chili! Boo! So I got a panini instead. My very first panini, and you know what? It wasn’t bad. (But also not worth $7.)

Pictures from our Disney day:

It’s fall at Disneyland, which means everything is orange and yellow and red! And there are pumpkin Mickeys everywhere!
Chris does finger exercises in preparation for the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.
Me! Finishing off my (corn) tortilla from the Tortilla Factory, and feeding the birds while Chris takes my picture at  Picture Spot in California Adventures.
This was supposed to be a much better picture i which the balloons would have been more of a focal point. But people are so ridiculous; they always move when I try to take really great pictures involving them!

Disneyland with some cool peoples

Yippee! It’s finally time for another Disneyland trip!

And even better, it’s a Disneyland trip with a whole bunch of my favorite people, who hardly ever go to Disneyland!

So it was like the most perfect day ever.

The only thing I would change would be getting these yahoos to be better models when I whip out that Rebel camera.

I mean, come one. What’s the point of having an amazing camera, if all your friends will give you is this?

Ridiculous, I tell you. At least Ryan understands my plight… well, mostly. He wasn’t trying to photograph the guys, just fun Disneyland points of interest. I like that he’s looking through his 3D glasses and the camera lens here.

Finally! Jarrod pulls through with some normal faces. The first thing we did was hit up California Adventures to experience the new Toy Story ride. Jarrod and I talked a big game, since we were the only ones who’d played it so far, but in the end Justin of course pulled through to kick all of our behinds, with a pretty wide margin, too. Errrrr. That kid ruins all our fun.

Ducks! Remember how I said Ryan and I found baby ducks in the smaller pond at Disneyland last week? Well, they’re still there! So the group of us stopped and watched as Mama Duck swam with her four babies in a row behind her, until Daddy Duck came along and decided to, well, um… let’s just say he was in the mood to create some more baby ducks….

There’s that OSF boy.

We had a lot of fun together. Would you believe he hadn’t been to Disneyland in years and years? We showed him the ropes of Disneyland excursions, and I believe he is now hooked. Next time- geocaching at the Magic Kingdom!

Then more of this:

Then a little inappropriateness between the guys:

Finally! A real normal picture of Jesse!

And then we’re back to this. Why do I even try? Why? It’s like they don’t even want fun memories of their day.

Except Jarrod. If I can get him by himself in a picture, he’s a brilliant model.

Seriously. Sometimes he takes it a little too seriously.

They guys entertained themselves almost the entire day with their fancy new cell phones, including Jarrod’s brand new iphone. There are some ridiculous games on that thing. And I’m not sure how I feel about everyone being on their phones during the line wait instead of having actual conversations.

Then on to Buzz Lightyear, where Jarrod destroyed us all, with Justin coming in a close second and claiming his gun wasn’t working properly. Yeah, well neither was mine, and I still managed to beat that OSF! (We’ll call it a tie from laser tag the week before, OSF.)

Justin and me. Thanks for smiling for real, Jgushin!

Caught this one of Jarrod by the Grizzly Rapids ride. Love the way the lamp post in the corner tricks your eye into thinking it’s the moon shining on him.

Such a great day, with such fun people! We all stayed for the fireworks and everything, and even though Tinker Bell didn’t jump from the Matterhorn (sad, because I’d really talked that part up to the OSF), it was still a great show. Jarrod, Justin, and Jesse left after that, and the rest of us hit up Small World, Space Mountain, and Matterhorn before heading home. Great day! And I’ve got another one coming up next week, which may be even better! 😉

Adventures of Two TGO’s: Coming Soon!

Well we’re off now to meet Lea Michele! (Hopefully.) We’ve planned a few hours to hang out at Disneyland on a quiet Monday, perfect for trying out fun photos, and then on to Santa Monica for the Glee screening. Our Spring Awakening books are packed. Our rebels are packed. And I’ve packed some extra cough drops, because despite what Sonia says, I think I am getting sick. No bueno before her wedding… especially because she’s staying with us starting tonight!

Peace out, girl scout.

Disneyland, woot!

Well, Sunday at Disneyland was supposed to be another photo shoot day, but Ryan’s camera was locked up at UPS over the weekend. So I took my new lens to play with and gave Andy my old A70 to convince the film lover how cool digital cameras are. I think we proved it quite well, as he had a lot of fun pulling out the camera he was carrying around in a little camo pouch tied around his waist. 🙂
Britt and Alicia took off early for work the next morning, but Ryan and Andy and I stayed for fireworks and Fantasmic. As we stood on Main Street watching the fireworks begin, the dad behind us kept wowing at each new spark that went off. And all I could think was, “Dude, wait until the Haunted Mansion shout out fireworks go off.” I’ve seen the fireworks five or six times, and they always amaze me, but it was a little extra special to be right in front of someone who couldn’t hide their awe as they watched it for the first time.
I also went on the Tower of Terror this time around, my first ride on it since the first time Brittany and I went to Disneyland with Ryan and Andy, and I let the two of them convince me to go on it with them. In memory of that special day, I went with them again, and you know what? It wasn’t as bad as I remembered it. I think I’ll even go on it from now on. (But don’t hold me to that.) As long as I have Ryan and Andy to hold onto for dear life, I think I’ll survive it again soon. 🙂

Another Year of Magic

And it was a splendid start. Two groups, three cars, and four hours after the scheduled departure time of 8:30, we finally all met up at the Matterhorn. The list of friends today:

Brittany, Ryan, Jenna, Alicia, Andy, Aaron, Jarrod, Beth, Taya, second Brittany, and Shawn. It was quite a group, but everyone got along super well, so it was way fun.

Disclaimer: There are a lot of pictures here and they are all out of order. I do not have the patience to go through and chronological-ize them.
First picture is actually the last picture. Here’s Brittany posing in front of Crush the Turtle in one of the parades.

This is so not a good picture, but it’s the only one I have of us in the front row of the Aladdin show. Jarrod sweet talked the guy at the door into letting all 12 of us sit front row center since it was Taya’s birthday month. It was crazy.

Andy and I gearing up for the show.
Cool castle pic #1
Cool castle pic #2
Cool castle pic #3
This is the time when Jarrod took a picture of himself while the camera was still around my neck.
Jenna poses cutely, and Andy has that face.
The actual first pictures of the day: Waiting it out for Space Mountain, Round One.

Apparently the Gap photo shoot carried over, because doesn’t Ryan totally look like he should be in a Gap catalog here?

Picture of the day, courtesy of the B-Cam!

So here’s the story with the teacups: Jenna, Beth, and Jarrod wanted to get a cup going super fast, and I got recruited to photograph the experience, since the teacups have no effect on me as long as I can stay focused on something. Seriously, I went once with Jon Morse and Adam Peterson, and those two can get those teacups going like I have never seen before. They’re the reason I know to focus on my camera when I’m on that ride.
Unfortunately for me, there was just one little second when I got thrown off focus. And it caught up to me a few hours later, and I couldn’t eat anything until the queasiness finally lifted around 11:30pm. Blast those teacups.

But it’s okay, because we got some rad pictures:

Jenna loves the teacups.

So do Beth and Jarrod.

Maybe Jarrod loves them a little too much.

This is always one of my favorite posed pictures! The Matterhorn!
And that’s it. Until next month!