Classes in Today's Schools

For over 3 years I had been a substitute teacher in the local schools. As a sub, I had the opportunity to visit many classrooms in Junior High and High Schools. There is more difference between classes within any one school, then between the schools. All the schools have students who excel, average students, students who have trouble keeping up, and students who want to run in the opposite direction. In addition, several schools also have extreme handicapped students for which almost everything must be done for them. Most are incapable of coherent speech. None are capable of taking any kind of State test. You do the best you can. For some you try to keep them from hurting themselves or others.

The classes I enjoyed teaching the most are the upper science and math classes. In a calculus or pre-calculus class the students want to learn. They come to class prepared. They have finished their homework. They ask good questions. They are respectful to the teacher, to each other, and to our flag. They stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and many recite the pledge.

At the opposite end are the 'remedials'. These are students who will not do homework, will not participate in class, and are defiant. They do not stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. They are found in such classes as 12th grade pre-algebra. The first time I had this class, when I told them to sit down, four students left the classroom.

In a 'General Studies' class, when I asked them to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, the only salute I saw was with the middle finger. I was asked if I spoke Spanish. I said "no, this is the United States." The student said "Not for long. Do you know you have been invaded?" I said "Yes." I was told that I should speak Spanish because the purpose of the 'invasion' was to return California to Mexico. He and other students were most candid in saying they plan to take over California by becoming the majority.

I subbed in a political science class. I was told I could select any subject of my choice for the opening discussion. So I told the class that I fully supported legal immigration. I told them that I tolerated illegal immigrants who came here to work. But I said I was opposed to those who come here to take over my country. I asked for their opinion. Most of the class seemed to agree with me. But one young lady stood up and was very vocal. She said I had no right to oppose her right to reclaim the land that the United States stolen from them. She was not the only one. Later I found out that she told others that I should be dismissed as a substitute teacher for being racist. Actually I have Hispanic friends, but they do not want to throw me out of California, the state in where I was born and raised.

I was asked to sub in a Senior English class. The students were to take turns reading out loud the assigned book. What they read was vulgar and profane in the extreme. The 'F' word was used in almost every other sentence. A loose translation of what I think I heard they were reading would be 'a boy must have sex with five girls before he is fifteen to become a man'. The book "Black Boy" is part of the state curriculum. It is required reading unless a parent requires an alternate choice. One person told me that profanity was an important dialect to learn and understand. Some of the state approved alternate choices to "Black Boy" aren't much better.

I signed up for science because my graduate work was in Physics. I know Physics and Chemistry very well. What I usually get called in to teach, however, is Biology, a class I have never taken. I have been called at then end of the 7th grade year for sex education. In one school, I started each class with the teacher's notes on sexually transmitted diseases. For the next hour I took them to the computer room where I gave them the teacher's web page. Being a sub, I am not allowed on a computer so I could not preview the material. When I got home that evening, I looked at the teacher's web page. It was more detailed then the book. Her web page referenced three other pages that had even more detail. One of these pages referenced a page that could be translated as 'Safe Sodomy'. I would recommend that a parent go to the school and sit in on any sex education class and monitor what is being taught. Of course a parent can excuse a student from this portion of biology and teach their child correct principles.

Speaking of science, all the schools I have been in have some really great chemistry and physics teachers. The AP chemistry and physics classes are taught at a high level. But only the best students take these classes. Most of the science classes are watered down. In these classes students watch 'Bill Nye' videos that have errors. Bill Nye is an actor, not the science guy that he portrays himself to be. The 'Bill Nye' videos were designed for the 6th grade. They are shown a lot in most junior high schools. Unfortunately, they are also shown in high school general science classes. The problem with 'Bill Nye' videos is that they never measure anything. They never use units or numbers. What kind of 'science' is that?

I asked one general science teacher why she teaches something that is not correct and she said that the truth is to complicated for them so what she teaches is almost true and the errors will be corrected later when they can understand. I asked another teacher why she was using 'kilograms per square meter' to represent pressure when in reality, it is not a measure of anything. [The unit of pressure is a Pascal, which is a Newton per square meter.] The problem is too many take these courses and remember the bad science.

In one Junior High School class, the class was asked to draw a picture of a spectroscope. They were carefully drawing a light bulb! The picture in the textbook was mislabeled. On the next page was a picture of a premature infant under a blue light. Blue light is used to cure yellow jaundice. But the caption said that ultraviolet light is used to cure yellow jaundice. Ultraviolet B light would cause a very bad sunburn. Ouch! One science teacher counted hundreds of such errors in a general science book used in this district.

The ozone hole in Antarctic occurs because of the lack of UVC to make the oxygen ions needed to create new ozone to replace the ozone naturally converted back to oxygen. But there is no great exposure on the surface to UVA, UVB or UVC because this can only happen during the long Antarctic night!

A young lady was involved with 'Global Warming'. I asked her a few questions and found that she knew nothing except Gore's bad science. I asked her if she had taken any science classes and the answer was 'no'. I told her that the major greenhouse gas was water vapor, that global warming was caused by increased solar output, and that this warming causes more water vapor and carbon dioxide to enter the atmosphere from the oceans. She was absent the next 2 days.

For more detail on the previous two statements, I recommend reading chapters 5 in the book 'Kicking the Sacred Cow' by James P. Hogan 2004. [ISBN 0-7434-8828-8] What he says in these chapters is similar to what I have known for years.

A couple of years ago I sat on a jury. The defense lawyer started off by saying, "The defendant drove of a mile from the intersection and then turned around. Now that's about a 1000 feet, right?" Wrong, of a mile is 3960 feet. She spent almost 4 hours trying to convince us that the blood tests should be thrown out because the phlebotomist keep the vials in her laundry room that was warm and that would make the preservative go bad. The preservative was salt. [Potassium chloride] I listened to 2 days of technical talk that had many errors. Too many average students learned bad science and did not learn how to measure. Maybe that is why in a survey of science literacy, students in the U.S. came in 24th of 40 countries, tied with Latvia. [See 'America's Brain Drain Crisis' in the December 2005 Reader's Digest, page 109.]

I asked an older teach when measurement was dropped from being taught in classes [except for chemistry and physics]. She said it was in the late 1980s with the 'Hippy' movement when measurement became a bad name because it rated some students better then anothers. The whole idea of ranking is against the philosophy that everyone is good.

It is not that I wasn't warned. Both Cal State San Marcos and National University told me that the number one ability schools were looking for in a new teacher is classroom management, the ability to control students. The second most important ability was being fluent in Spanish. If a teacher knew anything about the subject being taught, they considered it a bonus.

Subbing has been a real education for me!

There are some students who want to be left behind!




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