Sunday, January 30, 2011


Here is my current reading list:

Four from my birthday
Three for work (one is a re-read)
One for school
Two still from Christmas
Three to read before putting on the shelves in my classroom

Some day.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

New stuff...

I've been working on the living room just a little bit.

This is what the room looked like when we first moved in:

This is what it looked like before we got the piano...

And this is what it looks like now...

I'm loving our little "collage" above the piano. It will grow as we take more pictures we love.

This one time...

...I turned 25. I wish I could explain how much I love my birthday. But I can't. I just do. (Ask Brad. He knows.) I'm kind of like a five-year-old. I'm not sure why I love it so much. I just do. Maybe someday I'll be able to explain.

(No, I didn't quite finish "the list." And I didn't make another one, really. I do have a new "to-do" list posted on one of my pages (see the top of my blog), but there's no deadline or anything.)

(I'm not sure why I look like I have a tumor in my cheek in the first picture, but I promise I don't.)

Home, Home on the Range...

Today, Kansas turns 150.

And while I sometimes have a love-hate relationship with the place, I am proud to be a Kansan.

Maybe this is idealistic and naive, but my hope for the next 150 years is that we can strive to become a place...

"...where seldom is heard / a discouraging word..."

(we already know the skies are almost never cloudy for a whole day)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Kids say...

We read about a hog slaughter today...

"Oh my gosh! They even used the hide!"
"Probably for bacon."
Um, yeah. Probably.
Yes, I teach in the suburbs. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

But what about?

I always cringe when I see people do research about school funding in Kansas and take the total amount spent on schools and divide it by the number of students.

The number seems great, anywhere from $11,000-$15,000 a kid. That would be fantastic. But it's a deceiving number.

Disclaimer: I am no expert in school funding. It is incredibly complicated. This is just what I have pieced together. For a more complete picture, contact your local superintendent (right, Darrel?!). 

The average Kansas general education student is "funded" with $4,012. (In Governor Brownback's budget proposal, that number dips down to $3,780 for next year.) Then, there a lots and lots of weightings for things like at-risk students, special education, free and reduced lunch students, etc... Money that goes into specific funds (capital outlay, technology, etc...) usually has to be spent for that specific purpose.

Some of the money included in the total spent on education in Kansas goes to KPERS (Kansas Public Employee Retirement System)... for retired teachers. Obviously, that money doesn't go anywhere near the classroom. Of course it's important to adequately fund this, but it's deceitful to call it "school funding."

Some of the money included in the total is money from local bond issues. Money that, by law, can only be used for the bond projects (school building improvements) approved by voters. 

Some of the money included in the total spent goes to a fund called "capital outlay." It's used for things like replacing worn out/broken furniture, repairing buildings, etc... And, yes, I suppose it could be used to shore up classrooms. But then what happens when the roof starts leaking? This year, both of my schools will use part of the money to buy new student desks. If they don't, next year's students will be sitting on the floor. (Based on this year's 5th, 6th, and 7th grade enrollment, which will be the number of middle school students next year.) Isn't that an appropriate use of funding?

Then there's that hoopla about reserve funds. Supposedly, districts are cutting teachers and athletics and classroom funding, but they're sitting on these huge reserve funds... This money is used for several things. For the past two years, many districts have used it to make payroll on time when the state is late with their payments to schools (which has happened several times in the last couple of years). Don't teachers deserve to be paid on time? It's also used to shore up districts when funding is cut mid-year.

This is just a quick, simple explanation. Once again, I have to admit that I am no expert in school funding. It is incredibly complicated. This is just what I have pieced together.

"Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind 
with an open one." -Malcolm Forbes

Monday, January 17, 2011

Deja Vu?!

I think we can agree that our future lies in our children. I think we can all agree that it's important to invest in our future.

Sometimes reality hits hard. 

Once again, our children are facing more cuts to their education. (No, I'm not being redundant. They are again facing more cuts.)

You can read more about it here, here, and here... here too....

I don't have kids of my own, but this crap wouldn't cut it if I did. I hope that all parents feel the same way. 

It's hard not to stress or worry or feel angry about how I could be right back in the same situation I faced last year. My job this year has been difficult, but it's certainly far better than not teaching. It's certainly better than unemployment.

But in the end, it's not just about my job. It's about how, by cutting the amount of money that goes to the classroom, we are cheating kids. They only get one shot at sixth grade. Shouldn't we give them the best we possibly can?

These numbers were compiled about a year ago, but I hope they can provide some perspective:

We spend $1 million per year to keep 1 soldier on the ground in Afghanistan, according to Robert Gibbs, White House spokesman.

We spend $47,780 per year to keep 1 Kansas senator in the state legislature in Topeka, according to

We spend $35,632 per year to keep 1 inmate in Kansas prisons, according to PBS.

But, $4,100 is too much money to spend per year to keep 1 Kansas school child educated?

I wish you could meet my kids. They're worth so much more. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Can you say slacker?

I can. I know, I've been a blog slacker. I'm sorry, but I just can't think of anything to say. I'll try to do better....

In the meantime..... today in sixth grade....

After I hit ctrl+alt+delete to close a frozen program and restart it, "Mrs. Kohlman! You're like... a miracle worker!" Pretty much. (But we'll see if I really am one come state assessment time.)

Explaining to me why he had a band-aid on his lip (yes, you read that right.... lip!): "Well, in math today my middle toe was numb so I took my shoe off. Then B. was raising his hand to answer a question, and he elbowed my lip." Oh, of course. How silly that I didn't know. Of course, I was just impressed that he figured out how to get a band-aid to stick to his mouth.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Words that are speaking to me...

For some reason I can't get this verse out of my head...

Will you love the you you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you've found to reshape the world around,
through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?

Will you come and follow me
John L. Bell and Graham Maule
source: Sing the Story c. 2007

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


"Sometimes things have to fall apart 
so they can come together in a new way."

The Blind Faith Hotel by Pamela Todd