Monday, April 10, 2006

Short Week #1

I'm still tired from the trip, having pretty much dragged through the entire day today. I was going to do a follow-up to Immig-Rant after the big rally in Dallas yesterday, but I think I'll save that for later. Tonight has been the night to do nothing, and it's working well so far; I got to see 24 at its actual time, and I haven't done jack (Bauer?) squat since then. Thankfully, this is a short week, since we get the day off on The Holiday That I Can Still Call Good Friday But The Schools Won't, and most of next week's teaching is decimated by TAKS testing (I'll gripe about that as it's happening; it's due for a fresh rant). So as long as I can hang in there till Thursday night, it's all good, and I'll have more coherent stuff to talk about.

Oh, and tomorrow is Lab Band Madness. You can bet I'll be there.

Police department, Miss Cleo speaking: An Australian police investigator has been suspended after he consulted a psychic to help him with an investigation.

Who's your daaaaaady? A woman in Indiana has become embroiled in a paternity suit...involving an alpaca. (Yes, that's a type of llama. No, nobody thinks she gave birth to the animal herself, but she says that, without proof of the animal's father, she can't sell it.)

She can't blame the dog for this one: A British teacher has lost a lawsuit against her school over their failure to replace a chair which made a farting noise whenever someone sat in it.


Eric Grubbs said...

Schools have a problem with calling it 'Good Friday'? Care to enlighten us? This is the first I've heard of this . . .

Ms. Worley said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ms. Worley said...

*sorry, deleted and reposted my comment... my own grammar and spelling was giving me seizures*

I haven't researched other districts, but in Plano Kev is most correct. We have this Friday off, but the official listing on the PISD website is "Student/Teacher Holiday". Just as it is "Winter Break" at Christmas/Hannukah etc. and "Fall Break" at Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur. (In many states, "Spring Break" is made to line up with Good Friday/Easter/Passover but in Texas, that is too late in the school year AND conflicts with last minute-TAKS prep.)

As with anything, it's just a CYA move. I'm sure that most teachers (myself included) are acknowledging to their classes, at least in passing, that many of the students will be celebrating Good Firday and Easter over the long weekend, and none of us are getting fired for any such acknowledgement. They just prefer not to post Good Friday as the reason on official publication or websites... because you never know what crazy parent has a lawyer.

If an atheist is willing to sue over having a "moment of silence", you don't think "Good Friday" would raise a flag with someone somewhere?

Ms. Worley said...

I still can't type.

Firday. Good Lord.

I thought I would also mention that Plano ISD is (to my knowledge) the only district in Texas that moved the state-set TAKS testing days (April 18-21) so as not to conflict with the Jewish holiday of Passover. We will now be testing on the 18th, 21st, 24th, and 25th. Which doesn't seem like a big deal until you realize that making this change thoroughly screwed up the travel plans of countless music groups and other campus organizations who had planned Spring Trips for the weekend of the 21st-24th. (Those trips are generally booked 10-12 months in advance, the TAKS testing dates were changed more recently.) In the case of the Senior High Choir whose trip I chaperone annually, we are taking the TAKS testing materials (which are normally literally under lock and key until the testing day) with us to NYC so that the poor unfortunate juniors who have TAKS testing on the 24th can take the test in the hotel ballroom while the seniors go to Chinatown.

A little off topic, but interesting nonetheless.

Jazzy G said...

Interesting? More like incredibly ridiculous. I can't believe those choir kids will have to take the test while on their trip.

I'd have to double check with my grandma, but as far as I know, there is nothing in the celebration of Passover that includes avoiding state-mandated tests. The last time I checked there is no chametz involved. Pencils and paper aren't made with a leavening agent. I guess the only excuse would be if you stabbed a loaf of bread prior to Passover with the same pencil you intend to take the test with.. but really if you are Jewish you would have thrown the pencil out or sold it to a non-Jew before the start of Passover. You know, we could round up a Rabbi and have him bless all the testing materials, thus making them kosher.

On a slightly more serious (but still amusing) note, Passover is actually 8 days long. They're still starting the tests during the holiday.

Ms. Worley said...

April 18th, the first day of TAKS, is in the middle of Passover, and while there are a few certain prayers to be recited on that day, scriptures to read, etc... there is no work restriction on that particular day. Therefore Plano ISD kept this as a TAKS testing day.
The night preceding April 19th, the second day of TAKS, is supposed to be observed by staying up all night reading Torah, commemorating the splitting of the Red Sea. Considering the implications of TAKS testing on school funding (we ain't leavin any children behind, W, we promise!), we don't want kids taking the test that have been up all night.
April 20th, TAKS Day Three, is Passover Day Eight, the final day. This is the day on which celebrants strive to focus entirely on the "Final Redemption" and the imminent arrival of the Messiah (not TAKS, one would imagine). This is a day on which Jews are also expected not to do any "work", and TAKS would fall under their definition of "work".
By the 21st, Day Four of TAKS, Passover is complete and no students are on work restriction or any such thing.
With all this in mind, Plano elected to keep the scheduled TAKS days of April 18th and 21st and move the other two tests to the 24th and 25th.
Incidentally, the State of Texas usually takes care not to schedule TAKS over any religious observances, but Passover and Easter (the dates of which are both based on how the lunar cycle coincides with the vernal equinox) are fairly late in the year this year, so the State felt the conflict was unavoidable. Plano disagreed, I suppose.

Being Christian, I should cite my sources:,, and my Jewish brother Chuck.

Kev said...

Eric--Umm, yeah, what Ms. Worley said.

The problem is, school districts are often a big example of someplace that runs so scared of lawyers that they've joined the PC crowd by default; heaven forbid (oops, I couldn't even say that if I were in their shoes, could I?) that someone might be upset by any reference to religion in the public square. I really wish the nation as a whole could have this one giant civics lesson where everyone is reminded that there is not a Constitutional right to not have one's feelings hurt...

G--hilarious. I can't get the image of someone stabbing bread with a pencil out of my mind.

Ms. Worley--I'm surprised that the state let Plano move the test; after all, couldn't someone in, say, Houston memorize some of the questions and IM them to their buddy in Plano who isn't taking the test until the next week? I thought that was the whole point of having the same day statewide.

Oh, and I feel for your choir kids who have to take the TAKS on the trip. I remember about three years ago, in the waning days of TAKS' predecessor, TAAS, when the whole test used to be given in February. That year, it fell during a particularly late TMEA convention, and the poor sophomores (that was the big year during TAAS) who made All-State had to take their test in San Antonio during breaks in their rehearsals.

Jazzy G said...

Kev ~ *giant grin of victory*

Ms. Worley ~ Yeah the first two days and the last day are the most important. You cite good sources.

Hmm.. I wonder if I can weasel my way out of my Geology exam this evening. According to Jewish laws, I am Jewish. Hmm.. probably wouldn't work. I'll just go suffer through it. ;P

James said...

Hey, curious question Kev... do you guys still have "In God We Trust" printed on your currency? Or have you ever?

The holiday is certainly still called Good Friday in Australia, and for that I am grateful. We're still calling it Easter, and I guess that while it may have lost all meaning a long time ago in the worldly sense, it gives me a chance to tell people what the beauty of Easter is all about I guess :)

Kev said...

James--it's a really weird double standard over here. Yes, our coinage still says "In God We Trust," as it has for eons. Yes, our Congress is on its Easter recess right now. Plenty of people over here (myself included, when I'm not in bigtime sarcastic mode) still refer to Good Friday and Easter...but for some reason, there's a certain element of society that blows a gasket if you try to call them by their religious names in the schools.

IMHO, the root of the problem is that some people have way over-interpreted the Establishment Clause of the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion") so that freedom of religion has become, for many, freedom from religion...and while it's true that people should have the right not to have religion shoved down their faces if they don't want it, I'm not sure that the Framers of the Constitution ever intended for this clause to be interpreted as "God shall never be mentioned in the public square." It's led to some pretty inane stuff, like home improvement stores selling "holiday trees" and the "Spring Bunny" greeting kids at the local mall.

But James, since I know you and I are on the same page, I heartily wish you a Happy Easter, which I guess is relatively soon down there...

Shawn said...

Well if they called it what it would really be, it would be "Good Friday for finding big band music, visiting car audio store, vacuuming out guitar cases, and going to the bank."

But after a while you just have to narrow it down to "break."

It means the same for me, the heavenly retreat in the morning to go back to bed and sleep in for another 3 hours yet still accomplish everything you had on the agenda.

Jazzy G said...

How about..

"Good Friday, but I go to a college run by a bunch of heathens so we have classes all day anyway."

Actually, I looked at the UNT website and the campus closes at 1pm. BUT, we all know that means nothing to certain departments.

Maybe today would be a good day to pull the Jewish-technicality thing and say that I can't attend class from 2pm-5pm.