Saturday, October 30, 2010

DLR LotD 09/26/10

Disneyland Resort
Line of the Day
Sunday, September 26, 2010

"You don't want to be a waffle, or you'll get stabbed in the eye." -- Sherry, to Meeko, at Storyteller's Cafe

Thank you to everyone who donated to CHOCWalk!

Friday, October 15, 2010

DLR LotD 09/17/10

Disneyland Resort
Line of the Day

Friday, September 17, 2010

"Can I interest anyone in dessert this evening?" -- Sherry, at Catal, to her table mates and server

Saturday, October 9, 2010

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's a Teacher!

Last weekend, I went to the Arclight in Pasadena to watch "Waiting for 'Superman'".  I had been looking forward to the movie ever since one of the schools in the film was featured in a "60 Minutes" piece.  I had been advised that to watch the piece because I have a friend who has a business association with the school, which is the first urban public boarding school.  The movie, though, focuses primarily on public education itself.  

In order that you know where I'm coming from, I'm mostly a product of public schools, albeit a highly regarded school district in California.  My first elementary school was a parochial school, but I went into the public schools starting in 4th grade.  As a child, I grew up protesting Prop 13 and rightfully so, as I saw many extra-curricular programs get cut by a lot of districts.  My own district, however, still hasn't given up its music and sports programs.  Of course, as a taxpayer, there are positive traits from Prop 13, but as a kid, I didn't care about that.  I wanted to still be able to play my music, which I did.  My grandparents were both teachers back in the Philippines.  I feel like I have their teaching blood inside me whenever I train people at work, and I did consider being a teacher when I was growing up.  I went to a University of California school, which draws from public funds.  My Master's Degree, however, was obtained at a private university.  

My thoughts on the film:

  • The theater was full.  One of the ladies wondered how many teachers were in the audience, and about two-thirds of the attendees raised their hands.  Then her friend asked how many of them were good teachers, and the same people raised their hands, then applauded.  Hooray for the good teachers of the world!
  • The film's focus is on the plight of the public schools, and the families that attempt to get their kids into better schools, ones that give their children a better chance at getting into college.  The parents look to the lottery system for the better charter schools to achieve that goal.  It also focuses on the reasons that the filmmakers believe are to blame for the failing public school system.
  • Anthony had me from his first word to his last scene in the film.  I loved hearing what that kid had to say, and I rooted for him to win the lottery the most.
  • I learned a lot about charter schools, since I didn't really understand what those were until now.  The film is really good at explaining how the schools systems have evolved (or dissolved), mixing animated explanations with film of different people involved in the education system (and Bill Gates).
  • I was astounded to learn about the high dropout right here in the County of Los Angeles, and the chances that a child has of staying in school.  I really, really hope that little Daisy gets to her goal of becoming a doctor or veterinarian.  She seems to have a lot of promise, and she loves school.
  • Oh, those blasted teachers' unions.  The film explains why the unions were formed, and also talks about how the unions have influenced not only the teachers and the schools, but the shape of our nation. 
  • I think that unions are important to keep teachers' rights protected, but I do think that they go way too far in keeping teachers around when they're not really helping kids.  For instance, when Washington, DC Superintendent Michelle Rhee tried to make a deal with the union, they wouldn't even let their members vote before turning it down.  The deal?  Get rid of tenure, but each teacher makes a 6-figure salary.  Are you frickin' kidding me?  One of the reasons I didn't become a teacher is that they are woefully underpaid for the importance of their jobs.  My friends that are teachers are heroes to me.  They love the kids that they teach, and they're dedicated to them to the point of exhaustion.  But they keep going.  Every one of them deserves that six-figure salary, and just because they'd rather have tenure and never be fired for being incompetent, they don't let them vote?  So y'all would rather keep the incompetent teachers around and have a lower salary for everyone?  WHAT?!?  Ergo my using the word "blasted" above.  I remember talking to one of my co-workers, who was raised in Taiwan.  He said that the teachers there were the highest-paid people in the nation, because education was such an important focus for them.  This conversation was over a decade ago, but it still amazes me.  (I actually don't think that people who become teachers start off by thinking "I'll just make it to tenure and I'm free!" I think that they started off with the best intentions and something jaded them.  But those same people should then just leave education and do something else).
  • I didn't know about the "tracking" system in public schools, but when I think about it, I realize that I was tracked for the advanced classes.  Perhaps that's why I thought that my education was so successful: I wasn't one of the people that fell through the cracks by being in the middle.  I consider myself lucky.  One of the charter schools, located in Northern California, has a no-tracking philosophy: all of the students attend the same classes, and their success rate is amazing (I can't remember the exact figures, but I think that it's at 96%).  
  • My education was also successful because my parents were focused on it being the most important part of my life.  They immigrated to the USA to give their kids a better life, and we have made the most of it by getting our educations and still getting the time to practice our music and spend time with our friends.  But school ALWAYS came first.  It's difficult for me to relate to the people that don't emphasize school to their kids, but they are in different life situations, where many of them need their kids to help them support the family with jobs, so there is no time for school.  In the long run, though, those same kids could support the family with the better jobs they can obtain after college graduation.  I understand, though: necessities are immediate.  My heart goes out to the mother who was behind on her daughter's tuition payments, so her daughter couldn't go to her own graduation ceremony (even though she qualified to graduate).  That mother was willing to work as many jobs as she humanly could in order that her daughter could get the education she needed.
  • A great point of those innovative educators that were featured: they all have high expectations for all of their students.  Our nation has become so complacent about everyone just having high self-esteem by giving awards for just showing up that we forget to expect the best out of everyone.  No, we can't all be the best, but we can expect our kids to do their best, and try everything we can to help them achieve it.  Falling on excuses like learning disabilities is not the answer: working with those disabilities is the answer.  Sure, I'm as guilty as the next person for thinking that training certain people is hopeless at times, but deep down, I want to teach them because I don't like to see anyone fail.  Remember the movie "Stand and Deliver"?  Jaime Escalante's students excelled because he expected them to do so.
  • The final scenes were snippets of George Reeves as Superman.  If only someone could save the day just like my favorite superhero.
My final soapbox here:
The public education system needs major reform, and that change needs to be embraced instead of stifled by selfish interests.  Education not only involves book smarts, but life skills (like those taught at the Seed School), and a way to express creativity like with music or visual arts, as well as giving time to develop kids' growing bodies in a healthy way.  It wasn't too much to ask for when I was a kid, so it shouldn't be too much to ask for now, when those kids from back then now have the power to make a difference.  

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Week of Auditory Bliss

Two weeks ago, my ears were treated to several days of Auditory Bliss.  

First, "Glee" premiered its 2nd season with guest star Charice Pempengo singing her butt off, making Pinays and Pinoys around the world rejoice.  "Listen", indeed!  Here she is, singing the song live.

And then, to top off the episode, Lea Michele sings "What I Did For Love" just beautifully.  I love this show!

Onward to later that evening, when I got to download the new Rockapella CD, "Bang!"  I'm looking forward to actually having a CD in my hand later this month, so that they can sign it.  Yes, I wish that "California Sad-Eyed Girl" was with Kevin in the lead, but I'm happy to have the other songs like "Tonight", "Tell Me What You Want" and "4U4Now4Life" recorded, and I love, love, love the title song.  If you haven't seen them sing it live yet, you NEED to do so.  It's nice that all of the guys have a hand in writing a song or two, but, of course, my favorites are Mr. Leonard's.  I just love the way he writes lyrics and arranges music.  Order yours today.  

Two nights later, Aura and I went to the L A County Fair to attend a concert of En Vogue and Boyz II Men.  I was irritated by a couple of people that clearly didn't belong in our section (they were holding a big USC sign and were not sitting with all of the other people wearing USC paraphernalia in what was clearly their group section).  They finally got kicked out of our section after 2 ushers told them to move and they didn't actually do so.  

En Vogue, fully intact with all 4 lovely women, have still got the vocal chops that they had back when they were #1 on the Billboard chart.  I was just loving Dawn's hair, and kept telling Aura that she needed to get her hair done that way.  They did a tribute to old school Funky Divas like Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner by doing their songs and even doing some of the old choreography.  My favorite part, though, was when they sang their intro to "Hold On", which is a cover of The Miracles' "Who's Lovin' You", a cappella.

Boyz II Men, still without a bass (Hey, Geo, do you want to do some moonlighting for your old group?), was amazing as well.  I realized that I've missed out on two CDs: "Love" and "Motown" that are filled with covers of other people's songs.  Where the heck have I been?  I realized this as they sang some songs from these CDs, and, like En Vogue, did some old school choreography for the songs by the Four Tops and the Temptations.  My favorite moment of the night was singing the "Dm Dm Dm Dada" with the rest of the crowd during "Motown Phillly".  Then Aura told me about the time that Shawn was going to throw her a rose at a show, and some  woman snatched it from over her head.  Augh!  I'd be traumatized, too.

Not Auditory Bliss-related, but still noteworthy: this was Aura's first trip to the county fair.  So, of course, we had to try some not-good-for-us yumminess.  We dug on the bag of churros that she bought, and each had a bacon wrapped chocolate dipped Oreo.  Yeah, that's right.  Then I bought some baklava for my co-workers, and the guy gave us free cookies to go with it.  Because we didn't already have enough crap to eat.  We had a great time, though.

I just love the fact that all of the music that I enjoyed that week was primarily made by the vocal chords of various humans.  VOICES RULE!!!

Excuse me while I go listen to that Rockapella CD again. :)