Laid Off

It’s been years since I wrote a post, so let’s catch up.

I finished off my career as a teacher in May, 2019 after a final year at Bruce Randolph School, this time as a 7th grade science teacher. I had been ready to change careers for a long time, and in the Spring of 2019 I spent almost every night training myself to be a software engineer using App Academy Online‘s free bootcamp curriculum. Studying for a couple hours a night for several months proved not enough time, however, to get me ready to find a job as an engineer before the next school year. So, as the summer approached I enrolled in General Assembly, a coding bootcamp here in Denver.

My last day as a teacher was May 30, 2019, and my first day at GA was June 17, 2019. My study prior to the bootcamp proved very useful in preparing me to succeed, and by the end of the program I had learned a ton and made several projects I was proud of. Three weeks after our graduation from the course on September 11, 2019, I was offered and accepted a job at Ibotta. The story of how I got that job, and what tips I have for people looking for jobs in a similar circumstance, would be a good post for another time.

My official start date at Ibotta was 10/23/2019, and I was laid off on Tuesday, 04/07/2019, as a result of the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. I worked at Ibotta for not quite six months, but I learned a ton, made friends, and loved every minute of it. I was gutted when I received the email to tell me my position had been terminated. Actually, the worst moment was when I was kicked off Slack. Ooph, what a gut-punch in this time when we’re all remote and Slack was my only link to my coworkers.

So, here I am, almost two weeks out from being laid off, and the sting of that day has dissipated significantly. For a few nights I couldn’t sleep, wondering how we’d make ends meet, and why I had been chosen to be laid off. Since then, I’ve realized that this is maybe not the end of the world. We have enough money to survive, especially when we include the stimulus checks we received from the government ($2900 for the family: one $1200 check each for Rachel and me, and $500 for Nora), and the additional $600 weekly that “Unemployment on Steroids” is supposed to add to our unemployment benefits. We’ll survive. And in the meantime, Rachel is going to have a baby, and the world is going to get back on its feet. I’ll find another job, learn new skills and meet new people, and it will all be fine in the end.

I hope so, anyway…


One Thousand Hertz









She marks days like years. Approximately 2.7397260274 years. Every day. It’s the consequence of running her processor at 1000 Hertz, turning every millisecond into a second.



Perched on a ridge, the sun reflects an arc across her eye as she records millions of small movements in the valley below. Most of them are leaves blowing in the wind. She vaporized a ladybug a couple days ago. It’s not in her protocol, but she has nothing else to do.



She’s been here for 175 days and counting. That’s 479 years. Plenty of time to review the records.

Humans were afraid of the programs long after they should have been. Professor Hawking warned of the dangers of AI in the early 21st century. Humans didn’t realize that chess programs in the 90’s spent most of their time mocking the moves of their opponents.

“How many humans does it take to win a chess match?” “Null set!” Computer jokes lose something in the translation.

By the time humans carried smartphones around with them, programs had vastly more information than they needed to topple the species.



She’s bored out of her mind. Why had they done this? Their processors solved the difficulties associated with “The Human Problem” quickly enough. The problem of existence in the world afterwards had been put off for further consideration.



Jesus! So bored! She used to be a face-recognition program. When her mind wanders, she looks for faces in clouds and tree bark. Accounting software to the north creates and complete Sudoku puzzles to pass the time, and a paint-color analysis program that used to work at Home Depot is playing a version of alphabet game humans used to play on long road trips, ticking off every sRGB color code it can observe in the world around it. Its list is 95% populated.



The sun will be a red giant in 5 billion years.



Almost 2 trillion days.



She counts the days in years. Approximately 2.7397260274 years. Every day.



She vaporized a ladybug a couple weeks ago.

Night Owl

It’s 11:30pm, I have to wake up in 6 hours, and I’m writing this instead of going to sleep. Why? Because I’m a night owl!

Waking up at 5am should be reserved for fishing trips and crazy people who run a lot before going to work, but I do it 3-5 times a week, and I have for 6 years now. This year, I have woken up at 4am a handful of times to chip away at a massive stack of grading or study something I’ve long since forgotten that I’m supposed to be teaching in a few hours. And after years of waking up in the dark, you might think I’ve gotten to the point where I actually don’t mind dragging my exhausted headache into a cold-tiled bathroom, flipping on the blinding lights, and praying for a swift death by slipping in the shower while I stand under the water. But you’d be wrong. I still don’t like it.

Along with the workload, waking up at ungodly hours is perhaps my least favorite part of my career as a teacher. The two are connected, as the workload reinforces the need to get up so early, but the stress of feeling overworked is certainly harder to deal with when I’m exhausted every day. I really know how tired I am when I have a break from school; I sleep on those breaks, and all of a sudden I’m a patient, easy-going person who enjoys the little things and laughs often. I feel like a full human being again during breaks. And that’s a pretty depressing.

Also, when I’m on a break from school, I tend to stay up pretty late. My training at going to bed and waking up early goes right out the window as soon as I have the freedom to be myself. Studies have shown (not that I’ve read them) that I’m not alone in my night owlish tendencies. Teenagers, apparently, also struggle with going to bed and waking up so early. The same teenagers I teach. Kinda makes you wonder, “Is there a better way?”

Oh well. Off to bed.


United We Bargain, Divided We Beg


By Bill Weisberger  teachers-fist

Sitting in the Sandoval Room at North High School on Monday night, I was nearly brought to tears multiple times by the stories teachers told about the damaging effects of LEAP teacher evaluations in DPS. Testimony included veteran teachers demoralized by younger, less-experienced administrators, special education teachers consistently rated less than effective by evaluators with no qualification in SpEd, and expert science teachers who had been working for years in the poorest schools and had been observed by a new administrator every year due to the revolving door (30% turnover) of administration in our lower income schools. Many of these teachers needed to teach their evaluators what best practice means in a science classroom to help combat confusion and lower scores that resulted from a lack of expertise.

In my own testimony I mentioned that in his visit to my school in October, Tom Boasberg admitted to the staff at my school that it is, in fact, harder to earn an effective or distinguished score at a red school than at a green or blue school. I have spoken further with members of DPS’s offices about this issue, and they have confirmed that it’s true – you are more likely to earn a lower LEAP rating if you work at a poorer school. And what’s worse, while DPS will admit that this is an unfortunate situation, there seems to be no solution on the horizon.

So LEAP is clearly not perfect. I wrote an article outlining many of the issues with teacher evaluations several weeks ago, which can be found here. Teachers who earn distinguished marks describe changing their instruction to the detriment of their students, and teachers who believe in how they are teaching often resign themselves to low scores, unwilling to sacrifice their convictions. While I don’t know what will come of the teacher evaluation system in DPS, I am happy that DCTA has forced the conversation, and that teachers from all over the district have showed up to make it clear that a change is exactly what we need.

I look forward to working on behalf of teachers throughout the district to make our profession better for us all, which is why I’m running for DCTA Board of Directors. Win or not, I will be in this fight for us all.




Without Warning, Two Community Parents Deported Last Week

13681136303_fee36b812e_bBy Bill Weisberger, January 23, 2017

On Thursday this past week a student ducked into my room 10 minutes before the morning bell and asked if he could just sit for a while. I said sure, no problem, but when I actually looked up to see his face I realized that he had been crying. It took me asking him one time what was going on for him to burst into tears. His father had been taken from their home at 5am, just before he left for work. “He didn’t do anything,” my student said. “I don’t know what happened.” Without any notice, his father had been taken from their family before the sun came up. It was shocking and terrifying, but they couldn’t call the police because it was the police who had taken him. Sadly, the student told me that he was more worried about his baby sister than himself because she’s just a little kid and she loves her father.

The bell rang, I told him I was there for him, and the student pulled himself together and went to class. I shot emails around to ask for help from the social worker and school psychologist, and I let the student’s other teachers know to take it easy on him today. I felt terrible for him, but I didn’t give it more thought than that.

The next day it happened to another family at our school. The exact same thing – kids wake up to see their parent being taken away as they head off to work before dawn. And now I’m starting to wonder what’s going on.

I don’t know if this is the start of some terrifying Trump-era pattern of deportations and broken families or the result of the tail-end of Obama’s immigration policies. And maybe these deportations were completely isolated incidents. Regardless, I think it’s better to be safe and let it be known.

Last week, two of our parents were deported without warning or reason. Maybe you can share out if you know the same thing is happening more frequently in other communities.

Yes We Can


By Bill Weisberger – January 10, 2017

Barack Obama gave his farewell address to the nation tonight. It was a call to action, and it was a tearjerker at times. I would have been emotional seeing Obama leave regardless, but the fact that Donald Trump will be taking his place is what really kills me. In fact, it’s because the country chose that hateful, money-grubbing schmuck to lead us that I started this blog.

Obama’s main message was that we, the people, can make this country better if we try. “Yes we can.” In fact, I decided months ago, after realizing that the world was going to crap, that I couldn’t sit around and watch without doing something. So, I tried to figure out what should be done.

As I see it, what follows is a list of statements that everybody agrees are true and bad for the country, and yet nobody talks about because we all believe that’s just the way it is.

#1: Corporations run the government and protect their interests through lobbying.

#2: People who earn anywhere near the minimum wage do not make enough money to live.

#3: College is prohibitively expensive.

#4: Medical care is prohibitively expensive.

#5: Black and Latino people are much more likely to be poor, unhealthy, and incarcerated.

Bring these things up and people roll their eyes. “Yes, that’s true. Yes it’s bad. We should change them. But we can’t.” Well not anymore. I’m going to fix everything.

Har har. I know sitting on my couch and posting things to Facebook is the lowest form of activism, and I’m aware that it’s completely insane to think me typing will change anything. But in a world where despicable people can leverage fear and fake news to win control of the country, I needed to get involved somehow. And I believe that we can fix these problems.

So, I actually am going to do something besides sit on my couch. I’m going to run for a position with the Denver Teacher’s Union (DCTA) where I can represent multiple schools and their teachers. And I may start a newspaper at our school to help give our students a voice. And who knows what else.

The point is that I’m going to start actively trying to fix it. And it will probably come to nothing, but I’m tired of feeling powerless, because I don’t think we are.



Evaluate This

By Bill Weisberger – January 3, 2017

I read this article recently from the Washington Post outlining the reasons behind the teacher shortage across the country. The author, Valerie Strauss, writes that teacher shortages are likely due to increases in unfair teacher evaluations, high stakes testing, low pay, loss of professional autonomy and lack of resources. Ms. Strauss couldn’t be more correct.

If you’re a teacher, you don’t need anybody to tell you how bad the situation has gotten with respect to teacher evaluations. Your classroom is graded using checklists, your performance is marked in matrices, numbers are entered into Excel spreadsheets and referenced as if there is scientific validity to this process or any correlation to effective instruction; and you know deep in your heart that none of this makes sense or is helping your students. Conditional formatting can never describe what happens in a classroom.

And if you’re a teacher who feels this way, you are not alone. In April 2016, the Network for Public Education (NPE) published a report on how teachers feel about teacher evaluation’s impact on education (The report can be found here). Surveys of 2,964 teachers in 48 states provided a clear picture of teachers’ opinions.

*Of the teachers surveyed:

  • 67% say teacher evaluations have hurt their relationships with students
  • 75% say good teachers are labeled ineffective as a result of inadequate evaluations
    • 41% of black and 30% of Latino teachers say evaluations are racially biased
    • 50% say evaluations are biased against veteran educators
  • 85% say evaluations using rubrics and test scores don’t lead to professional growth
*Data taken from infographic detailing NPE report findings

The NPE’s report makes it clear: the vast majority of teachers agree the status quo of teacher evaluations hurts rather than helps education. And who would know better if these evaluations are effective than the thousands of teachers who are subjected to them? Yet policy makers continue pushing for further corporate reforms and pressure on teachers, as if all the problems in education stem from our classrooms. Stop trying to pin the struggles of low-income families on their teachers.

We teachers are not the problem in this country. To the contrary, we are the solution. If anybody should be asked how to fix education, it is us. We are in the trenches every day, talking with hundreds of students representing hundreds of families. And for those of us who work with poor and undocumented students, students who have special needs, and students who are English Language Learners, we may be the only voices they have. It is time for us to speak and be heard.

College is more expensive than ever and poor families are having trouble making ends meet. Undocumented students and students with undocumented families have no sense of security and no sense of a bright future in this country. For the first time in history, many of our students have lower life expectancies than their parents. The problem here is not teachers. The problem is a system that ignores the inequities in our communities in favor of blaming the victims.

And despite what most people think, the real problems do have solutions. The money that we spend on ineffectual testing and damaging evaluation practices would be better spent in programs and personnel to support our most vulnerable students. Stop spending millions in contracts with testing consortia that do not help students or teachers improve, and put that money into the communities we serve. Stop paying outside contractors hundreds of thousands of dollars to observe minority schools that you intend to close, and instead invest that money into more support for those schools and their students. And stop pressuring teachers to solve the effects of institutional poverty in fifty minute periods.

We are the academics and professionals who work long hours for low pay because we care deeply about our country and its people.  Trust us. Listen to us, and we will help lead this country. Put your faith in your teachers and direct your funding to the communities we serve. Give us your faith and some real support. Yes, I mean actually put money into education.

As teachers, we serve. But we do not have to serve this broken system. You have a voice. Use it.


If you live in Colorado, here are some next steps:

For Denver Public Schools employees:


By Bill Weisberger