Friday, February 17, 2012

Home Maintenance Triple Whammy - Epilogue

To bring you all up to speed on how my contractor party went, here's a recap.

8:00AM - Garage door contractor shows up (right on time).  He spent about 20 minutes looking at the opener with me working the Up/Down button.  Turns out the motor drive and drive gear are factory packed with grease, but this particular unit didn't get enough.  I suspected this but didn't want to pull it apart and void a warranty.  Plus, the installation is still within the installer's warranty - so this wasn't costing me anything but time - which I was already committing to other contractors.  Anyway, he greased it all up and it works fine.  Off he went by 8:30AM after I signed some stuff.

10:00AM - Both the refrigerator repairman and insulation contractor show up at the same time (what are the odds).  So I talk to the refrigerator guy first and get him started on his troubleshooting.  Then I talk and walk through the project with the insulation guys (2 guys).  They say they're going to be done by 2:00PM because the foreman needs to pick up his kid from school - perfect, I may be able to make meeting with The Pudge's principal. 

10:30AM - Refrigerator guy can't get the refrigerator to make the noise both The Mrs and I heard.  I suspected it was a low freon problem, but refrigerator guy says freon is good.  He was actually more interested in what happened to the tree on the deck.  Anyway, this was covered under our extended warranty (would have been $137 for the call) so this is one item where I'm glad we have the extended warranty.  I like the refrigerator (Kenmore Elite) but it has had some minor problems where the warranty has already paid for itself.  I have warranties on the dryer (LG) and the Microwave (Kenmore).  Anything with electronics I think the warranty is worth having.

10:00 AM - 2:30PM - Insulation guys work with minimal noise and dirt.  I inspect each section (as best I can because I can barely fit through the openings) and it looks like they did everything they were supposed to do.  I was going to take some pictures of the finished work, but that was too difficult.  I did take one though. 

The insulation guys set up their Atic-Cat pump system and pumped all of the cellulose through a 4" hose.  This wasn't near as loud as you'd think it would be.
 2:45PM  - I signed and paid for the work, just in time for The Mrs. to pull up.

3:00PM  The Mrs and I did our walk of shame over to The Pudge's school.  It's not far.  In fact, you can sort of see it in the picture behind the insulation guys trailer.

The Pudge's F

This is a long, involved story and quite boring, so I'll give you the Reader's Digest version.  There's an on-line software that the school district uses to allow parents to monitor their child's grades.  Most teacher will update it daily or a couple times a week with homework, labs, test and quizzes.  And it will give you an instantaneous grade snapshot.  We've been using it for years and have never had a problem until this year's math class.  The 1st marking period, we noticed the software indicated an A+ but for daily entries, it listed "X" or "1".  He ended up with a "B" for the marking period.  The 2nd marking period was more of the same, only this time he ended up with an "F".  Every other class gives number grades and an equivalent letter grade.  And for the 2nd marking period, The Pudge had A+, A+, A, A,  A-, B+...and an F.

The teacher never gave us any indication that anything was wrong.  On report card day, The Pudge had to wait 2 hours until we got home from work, and then proceeded to have a total melt-down including hyperventilating.  The Mrs. and I were furious with the teacher and school.  That weekend, we wrote a very detailed letter to the guidance counselor and principal (not the teacher).  We got a fairly quick response back from the principal and set up the appointment to see him on Triple Whammy Friday. 

The Thursday night before our meeting, while The Pudge and I were at scouts, The Mrs. gets a call from the teacher (this is around 7:00PM).  The first thing the teacher starts talking about is having to work late.  The Mrs. cut her off on that topic right away (The Mrs. routinely works until 9 and 10 at night) and told her to get to the point.  The teacher wanted to let us know that she realizes there is a problem with the on-line software and communication and that she and the school are taking steps to correct it.  Blah, blah, blah...we'll work to fix the problem.

We came to find out later she called at least 2 other parent that night.  The Pudge told us that a lot of A/B students in his class also failed.  We also found out that a bunch of students had problems with this same teacher last year.  So much so that at least one transferred out of  the class this year when she found out who the teacher was.  Now we're really furious - and off we go to the principals office.

So, the teacher is in the meeting with us, the principal and guidance counselor.  Everyone is all lovey-dovey and the teacher will now send letters home every two weeks with student progress (for everyone in the class).  I really wanted to give the principal an earful about a problem teacher that is causing problems for me and my family, and the school knew about it for at least one previous year.  This is one of the problems we have with the teacher's union and tenure (hopefully soon corrected by Governor Christie - love that guy).  I'm still thinking about writing another letter to the principal stating this.  Do I want to do the noble thing and try and prevent this from happening to next year's 7th and 8th graders?  I'm thinking on it. 

We get home and tell The Pudge everything and he feels a little better.  He thinks he can stick it out for a couple of more months, then he goes to high school.  The Mrs. and I decided to take him out to Don Pablo's for dinner.  We get there and there's a 30 minute wait.  We go into the crowded bar area and I go and get drinks.  The Pudge likes margaritas so I asked the barkeep for a virgin and a regular for The Mrs.  He brings them over and I ask which is the virgin?  He says "oh, I thought you said frozen."  The Pudge almost wound up face down in the gutter.  Bwahahahaha - now that's good parenting.  When I get back with the drinks, here The Mrs and The Pudge are talking to a family whose son is in The Pudge's math class.  And they were in the same situation although they didn't get an audience with the Principal.  Small world.

And that is how my weekend started.

The good news is that it got really cold Saturday (around 20 degrees) and The Mrs. said she felt warmer because of all of the new insulation.  It was worth it just for that.


Heff said...

My 'fridge is dumping condensation on to the floor of the freezer, which of course, then turns to a block of ICE, which I have to break up with a hammer and chisel to remove.

No contractor involved. I'm gonna shit-can the thing and buy a new one.

moi said...

Wait a minute. You let your kid drink a regular margarita? You are an awesome dad, and I say that with no irony or snark intended. Seriously, nothing like alkeehol and Mexican food to make the sting of an F go away. Also, maybe I'm missing something, but the fact that The Pudge posted all As, a B, and then out of the blue an F? And that happened to other kids, too? Shouldn't someone be questioning the teacher's ability here? That's quite a drop off.

Jenny said...

Isn't amazing when people actually show up and do what's expected? Isn't it sad we're grateful for them just showing up?

I can't even figure out mathematiclly (ha?) how a kid can get consistent A's and B's and then a F? My State wants to implicate a new policy that actually grades the teachers and guess what? The Union is fighting it. Because, jeez, God forbid a teacher is held to a higher standard. Just be glad you don't live in California. They kept a horrible child abuse problem quiet for an entire year.

Have a good weekend.

Buzz Kill said...

My fridge is only 3 years old. But I'm glad I have the waranty. The Kenmore's an LGs are pretty good, but they don't make them like they use to.

I said "almost", he got the virgin margarita. But I am an awesome Dad.

As far as the teacher goes, I have one word - tenure. Here's an interesting fact:
"In ten years, only about 47 out of 100,000 teachers were actually terminated from New Jersey’s schools."

The teacher's union has that much sway in this state. And don't get me started on the unsustainable pension plan they have. In our meeting with the principal, we could see his hands are either tied or he's protecting her - same result either way.

The Pudge got the F for not meeting state standards. There are like 25 stadards for the year, and each one has a 4 problem test. Every other class requires getting 3 out of 4 problems right to meet the standard. This teacher requires 4 out of 4. Now that The Pudge understands that, he's doing much better. And they can re-assess these standards until they meet them. The Pudge said the first re-assessment they had (Monday) was standing room only - there were that many kids who failed. And this is an accelerated math class. They're all A-B students.

Anyway, he just has to stick it out about 3 months and then he puts this teacher behind him when he goes to high school. I'm still trying to conviince The Mrs. to let me send a letter to the Principal telling him what I really think of this teacher. Maybe after The Pudge gets his final grade.

Buzz Kill said...

See my response to Moi. NJ actually has an initiative in the assembly to get rid of tenure. Of course the union is fighting it. You should see the union tv adds smearing Governor Christi about this.

I can see the teacher's arguement that if you get a class full of stupid kids, how can they be held accountable. I think a better measure may be how many kids drop out of a teachers class based on reputation. The Pudge's teacher would be gone if that were the measure.

Karl said...

Good evening Buzz Kill,

Seems like you've come out ahead on the issues with the house, good for you.

You know this is one of the things that most people don't understand about unions. Tenure or seniority allows people to attain and maintain positions they really don't deserve. So that under performance, particularly in public sector unions gets rewarded. This experience could be used to teach Pudge, some of the evils behind what modern labor unions have become.

Pam said...

Buzzy, I back you up so far regarding the teacher it isn't even funny. A bad teacher can ruin the name of a good school, for sure. You have to be vigilant as a parent, also, so good for you and Mrs. Buzzy to get over to the school to address the situation. If their software is bad, what are they going to do about the grade that is on the books? And yay for you for taking Pudge out for Mexican food (I miss our Don Pablo's btw, sigh) ... It took me a long time to realize that just because a kid is in trouble at school doesn't mean he should be in trouble at home if things are going well at home. Two different animals as far as discipline is concerned in my book. Believe me, this comes from years of experience.

Now re home maintenance, sounds like you hit the jackpot. Don't you love a productive day where everything gets done in a timely manner? Dealing with contractors = pain in buttowski.

Glad the insulation is good news also. Money well spent.

Buzz Kill said...

The Pudge's brother, The Boy already has him taking an anti labor stance. It's interesting just how much they understand.

The Princpal assured me that at he end of the school year, the F grade would be corrected assuming The Pudge meets all of the state standards and keeps doing well. I have no doubt The Pudge will hold to his end of the deal.

The contractor stuff went well. It was just a lot in one day - even for me. And I'm definitely noticing the heater cycling a lot less. Something you should look into if you haven't already.

fishy said...

Move your kid out of that class now.
I once was in a similar situation with Mermaid. My instinct was to insist on changing her class but I adopted the we will observe then decide approach and now .... now I know my instincts were right and the decision should have been to move her. There is zero logic in leaving a student in a class with a teacher known to fail.

Buzz Kill said...

Well, we do have some logic being applied here; we considered transfer and talked to The Pudge about it. The problem is that the school uses a "team" concept. The teams are 80 - 90 kids and they all track together with their classes thru the whole school year. The math class in question is an advanced class and he is in the only one for his team. To transfer would mean changing teams and he was very adamant about not doing that. He likes his friends and other teachers and is willing to stick the class out for 3 more months to stay with them.

I just saw updates to his math grade and it looks like he's half way where he needs to be with state standards. We talked and he will make arrangements to re-assess this week. If he does well in the re-assessment, he'll be caught up. I watch him do homework and he does seem to understand the material. We're just going to have to trust that he knows what he's doing and can deal with the teacher. I see that as part of his maturing process.

I will be writing a letter to the principal after the school year is done to encourge him to do something about this teacher. It's not fair to the kids.

LaDivaCucina said...

Hi Buzz, I've heard so many bad reports lately about this sort of stuff with sounds incredibly frustrating! Your boy sounds bright, three months goes by like that and then you are right, it's behind him. You were a good Pops for taking him out for Mexican!

I am now a homeowner. Every time The DJ and I hear a ping, whizz or whirl that we shouldn't, we stop, look at each other and go, "What's that?" I am the Queen of DIY You tube videos and researching on the Internet. I've been able to troubleshoot on most things so far after getting screwed by the GE repairman for our washing machine by having him put in a new transmission when we could have bought a new machine for only a bit more money! I have also learned to be really, really nice to repair people but when they have to come back THREE TIMES, I kind of turn into a REAL BEYOTCH. I only have so much patience. Live and learn.

moi said...

A+B+C = What now?

Sorry. I tagged you in my latest blob post; play if you'd like, but I figured you come up with some appropriately snarky answers for grins and giggles.

Buzz Kill said...

The Pudge will make it through this. he's a good kid.

If I've learned anything about home maintenance, it's know your limitations. And know the value of things. In our disposeable society, the first thing I do when I get a repair estimate is weigh it against a new unit. Most times, I go with new.

A+B+C=F in The Pudges math class. Bwahahaha And I played your little game, oh yes...I played your game.