Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Another Memo

It is early to discuss consistency among the course grade, final exam grade and the Regents exam grade.  Nonetheless, to make sure we all have greater consistency, please make sure you spiral all topics taught throughout the year on your exams. [ A very good idea.]Please refrain from giving unit exams and exam that contains more than 100 points worth of questions.  If you decide to give a 3 point extra credits problem, please make sure it is very hard and challenging.  If more than 30% of your students get the extra credit question right, maybe it is way too easy.  [Why bother building the kids confidence?]The best thing to do is to make sure your exam contains 100 points and no more.  The Final Exam and the Regents exam are out of 100 points.  [Have I been giving a different regents?  Last I looked, you needed less than 30% to pass the algebra regents and less than 50% to pass the other two.]

My comments in red.


Newsday had an article this week about customer service  A customer training company advised reps to
1. Say thank you for letting them know there is a problem.
2.  Listen to the complaint without interruption.
3.  Let the customer talk as much as they want to.  Anger will ultimately burn itself out.
4.  Never debate or argue.
5.  Offer empathy and gather facts.

This technique has been used on me quite successfully in the past and not in regards to customer service but in regards to something much bigger.  But, I'm wise to it now and it won't work again.

I've been fooled before.  I won't be fooled again.

Another Gem

From the last memo:

I have had conversation with teachers regarding the performance of their students.  It was interesting to note that some teachers know exactly what their students need help with to do better.  Can we all say that about each of our students?  Do we know the name and average of each student?  I hope, one day, every math teacher knows the academic performance of each student in his/her class.

Knowing names how how students are performing is one thing. Knowing averages is something else.  Let's see 5 class, 34 kids per class, means 170 averages to know.  I better start making flash cards.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Anonymous Blogger

I was asked to post this for a friend who was afraid to post on her own blog. I know how she feels.  I have people all over the Internet posting for me.

Here goes:
How would you feel if you could anonymously blog this post for me?

I had this up on mine but edited it to add more details. With the extra details, I would rather post anonymously for the time being.

I chose the colors on purpose to show my anger and non anger.

I was angry that.....
the administration sent a paraprofessional (non educator) who does not even have a college background into my classroom to re-arrange in a way that did not make sense, for classroom purposes. (however, I learned how to channel this anger in a more appropriate way because I made a bad judgment call because of it).
the administration wrote me up for being accused of having 5 children work on 1 'suitable puzzle' to show that I am incompetent. Well that 1 suitable puzzle was an enormous floor puzzle where the children can work collaboratively. When things are written on paper, is not necessarily how its depicted in real life.

the paraprofessional got away with snitching and reporting on me to the principal and nothing happens to her for this unprofessional behavior. I was warned by 3 staff members that she is a snitch, and she gets away with this inappropriate behavior.

the teacher I worked with on grade level can get away with sitting on her ass at the computer all day, not interact with the children and not do all work. I was also angry that teachers like this are the reason why Ed Deformers also go after hard working, competent and qualified teachers who do not deserve to lose their job. I was also angry that she still has her job because she takes advantage of 'racial factors' and the 'tenure system'.

that I get yelled at for teaching air writing to pre-kindergarten children because its not a developmentally appropriate practice on a literacy observation lesson. Research shows that air/sky writing is extremely appropriate for the lower grades. (Reason for subjectivity on observation lessons).

the city exploited my medical condition to cover their asses and I got the bulk of it by being harassed by the administration for 2 extra months.

the city doe officials think its okay for me to sit in a library doing absolutely nothing for 2 1/2 months and be subjected to harassment and abuse by the administration. I felt like a Prisoner of War with the Gestapo after me.

my mentor can say wonderful things about me for a whole year and then when she finds out that I am the new scapegoat and need to leave the school, she acts like I was total bad teacher and pretends that she never said anything wonderful about me. I STILL WANT TO SMACK THIS PERSON IN THE HEAD FOR BEING A CREEP AND A COWARD!!!!!

that administrators can make it their business to go after teachers and push them out when its the fault of the lousy administration which is why the school is falling apart.

that my mother gets written up by her principal for taking some days to visit my dying grandfather in Florida. The principal used my mother's absences as an example, "Oh I need to find a problem in my school to show that I am doing my job. I need to go looking for a problem. This is a good thing to write a teacher up on." I was also angry when my grandpa did pass away, the principal left a message to see how the family was doing. Talk about hypocrisy right there.

I lost my grandfather due to cancer and I was not able to see him before he passed on.

its hard for me to find a job because of the screwed up economy, not necessarily because I was canned..although....

I was angry that I could not get this pre-kindergarten job in Morning Side Heights because of my past in P.S Ahem. Morning Side Heights Principal could not hire me because she excessed 3 elementary teachers. HR rep couldn't defend a position on bringing back a terminated teacher. Morning Side Heights Principal also saw my entire paper work that PS Ahem principal wrote on me and disagreed with her findings but I still could not get the job. She was close to giving it to me too. The interview went well, she called my references and asked for my file number to make the transfer. I guess that was not the right place for me either...who knows?

the union tries to make it their business to help and teachers pay their dues but the union still comes out powerless.

that I was given no direct and clear guidance from the administration and I was led to believe that everything was all right until June, 2009. If she didn't like my teaching style, then why didn't she do something then? Why did she wait until the 7th day of school and try to run me out of the building?

that the reading teacher lost her position due to budget cuts and took over my old class once I got canned. She did not deserve to lose her position in the middle of the year. If there was any indication that her position was in jeopardy, it would have been in her best interest to know that the year before as well.

that I got yelled at for going to the administration on an individualized behavior modification system for 4 students who had severe social and emotional needs. All the AP said to me was, "That is great, and then when it doesn't work out in 2 weeks, you can go to plan B." (What kind of support is that from an administration?)

that I asked the principal if 2 students in my class can use and squish play dough with their hands while they learn and sit on the rug. This was to help students who have sensory and tactile issues focus in class. Principal screamed and said, "Won't the other kids get jealous if they see those 2 playing with play dough?". What I wanted to say, was "I am sure the other children will be relieved that these 2 children will stop bothering them on the carpet."

that a K-5 Literacy Staff Developer came into my classroom during the second week of school to help find things to write me up on, when she specifically has no background in early childhood education. Not only does she have no background, but she was interfering with the routines and behavior management of the class during the second week of school.

Well, these are a lot of things that I have been angry about all year. All of these things that occurred are completely true, although I wish it never happened. I also dislike when people say, "Oh get over it. You are not there anymore, you do not have to deal with this stuff.". Its easier said than done. This was a lot of horrendous trauma that occurred for 1 year.

Here is how I got over my anger:
1. Time- A lot of time had to pass in order for the anger to subside. This was the key to feeling better.

2. Counseling- Since I do have a medical condition and had to be evaluated, I continued seeing my psychologist to get over the fear, stress and trauma of what happened to me, amongst other things.

3. Hobbies and Interests- In August, I found a passion and interest in photography. Now, I go on photograph excursions in order to let loose and have a lot of fun. I also found an interest in blogging and keep up to date with all of my blogs that I follow. Through blogging, I learned that I am definitely not alone.

4. Punching Bag at the gym- Over the summer, I had a lot of aggression and pretended the punching bag was the former principal. She was quite the witch, and I am being nice with that description.

5. Support from Loved Ones- If it wasn't for the support of my family and 'true' friends who really understood the plight I went through, I couldn't have gone through this ordeal on my own. I will always be eternally grateful to those special people in my life. I will never forget what they have done to help me through this.

I Did It


Holiday Party Time

$45 to go to the school holiday party and sit with you know who?  I don't think so.

I'm passing, as I usually do.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Letting My Feelings Out

I'm the same teacher, maybe even a better teacher than I was years ago.

I am always available to help my students.  I even answer their e-mails at night and on weekends.  I come to work prepared to teach daily.  I never take off and I am always in my classroom on time.

I come to school early, stay late and have even come in on weekends and holidays to give the kids extra help.

I've stayed until 6:00 PM and later marking regents that needed to be marked and copying papers to send to Albany.  (Yes, to help Mr. AP meet his deadlines.)

I've always done my best to get the job done, given it my all.

I wanted one more year of being in the classroom before I closed off that part of my life.  I wanted a year to enjoy my students and help as many as possible reach their full potential.  I didn't seek retirement on the job.  I've learned to use the 21st century technology available to me.  I reach out constantly to parents, counselors and anyone else I think can helped some of my troubled students. 

I am not perfect, in fact I am far from it.  I always strived to be the perfect teacher.  I've come to realize that will never be me.  I'm not talented enough or smart enough to achieve that goal.   But, I've also come to realize that many of the teachers I wanted to emulate were not perfect either.  And, sadly, I now see that the teachers who are set up as "master teachers" are anything but that.

I'm not looking for accolades or for special privileges or recognition.  I want to be left alone to do the job I know I do well.  I don't want to worry about "big brother" watching my every move, waiting for that first second when the bell rings to catch the few kids that cannot make it to class on time.  I don't want to start harassing good kids for being 30 seconds late when I know these kids do everything in their power to be perfect students.  I don't want to spend my energy fighting with a spiteful administrator who is after me for nonsense.  I've done nothing to warrant this type of treatment.  Call me dumb and naive but I don't understand why it is allowed to go on unless there really is some underground  policy about getting rid of older teachers.


I learned a long time ago not to let people in, not to trust and not to have any expectations.  Even the lowest of  expectations are often not met.  This way, I am armored, invincible. And, while I still take some blows, their arrows can do me no damage.

Facebook Calculus Group

I had the kids in my AP calculus class start a facebook group so they would have a place to work together online.  Since we don't have double periods anymore they need a place to work together.  So far, it has 48 members and is growing.  The take-home assignments I give them and then grade force them to work together. 

I suggested the change in scheduling so more kids would be able to take the class, and I've set up an online place for them to work together.  But, I've got to do better.  Some of these kids are still arriving 30 seconds late to class and it is all my fault.  I've got to do better.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Divi Aruba Phoenix Resort - Aug. 2010

I have to forget about the crap at work and think about where I will be in a short time. I can't wait.


No Money For Schools, But...

Money's tight.  School budgets are being cut.  Bloomberg threatens to lay off 6000 teachers next year. 

But, there is money for a deputy chancellor because Black knows nothing about education.


For The Kids

I know I sounded like a horrible person when I said I didn't want to write recommendations but the truth is, I do write recommendations and I write really good ones.  I do them within two days of being asked, I give the kids multiple copies and even give them a copy to keep in case they need an extra and I am not around.  I read their resumes and their personal statements and I always try to include an anecdote, something special pertaining to them to make their recommendation seem really special.  Many of my recommendations go to the same schools so they have to be unique.  I don't want the people who read them to say, "Not her again.  I can pass this one over as I know exactly what it says.  All of hers say the same thing." 

I was worried about one of the students I said no to.  I asked her if she got another teacher to write it.  She answered, "Yes, thank you.  My pre-calculus teacher wrote me a very good one.  You were right.  She does know me better than you do."

Judy is a tenth grader who was in my geometry class last year.  She struggled but ended up doing very well in the end.  She stopped me last week and asked me to write her a recommendation for a science research program she wants to get into.  Of course I complied immediately.  Wednesday Judy stopped me and was crying.  She only got a 62 on her last trig test and was going to fail trig this marking period.  Failing this class means she cannot get into the program.  Judy has been working hard, meeting with the tutor I arranged for her and is improving.  Although I cannot help her with her grade this semester I can try to reword her recommendation in such a way that the program might be willing to give her a chance, in spite of her grade in math.

Here is the recommendation written on Thanksgiving morning:
To Whom It May Concern:

Judy Smith was a student of mine in geometry. She was always well prepared for class, asked questions and volunteered answers. She questioned what she did not understand and never stopped until she fully understood all the material she had been taught. She was an asset to the class.

Judy has a strong work ethic, the type of behavior needed to succeed in the Science Research Program. Math does not come easy to her but she never wavers in her quest for perfect understanding. She readily gives up her lunch period many times a week to seek extra help. This perseverance will guarantee her success in the class. Perseverance and determination are traits needed for success in science research. Judy also has an inquisitive mind. She works well with others.

Judy is so much more than a number of a piece of paper. Judge her not by one poor grade, but by her character and transcript.  Judy is an all around terrific student, the type of student every teacher desires in their class. I recommend her highly for this program.

If she gets in, I will have accomplished something.  I've got to reminding myself I'm here for the kids I love.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I Am Thankful Today

A long relaxing soak in a bubble bath jacuzzi after a great dinner with friends and family, especially when one of the family members is this guy has done wonders for my mood.  I have a new outlook on things.

Of course I had to take pictures of all the food.  All that hard work has to be on record.  Boring to look at, but I put them here anyway.

City Day

It's been forever since I had a day to enjoy the city so last Sunday we took off to the MOMA.  There was an exhibit on the modern kitchen that I wanted to see plus a few more.  One of my favorite ones was On Line.  My husband thought it would be computer related but it was about shapes and lines, very mathematical.  Why an electrical chord hanging on a wall is considered art is beyond me, but I enjoyed it anyway.

It would be nice to take a class trip to one of these museums so the kids could see the connection between math and art.

No photo taking was permitted in this exhibit, but I took some notes so I could remember what I saw.  This was one of my favorite quotes.

Marcel Duchamp: It  is “a joke about the meter,” Duchamp glibly remarked about this piece, but his premise for it reads like a theorem: “If a straight horizontal thread one meter long falls from a height of one meter onto a horizontal plane twisting as it pleases [it] creates a new image of the unit of length.” Duchamp dropped three meter-long strings from the height of one meter (about three feet) onto three stretched canvases then fixed the strings to the canvases in the random curves they had formed on landing. He cut the canvases along the string lines, creating templates for new units of measure that retain the length of the meter but undermine its rational basis.

More pictures (not of this exhibit and some photos of 5th Ave posted on facebook.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

M.C. Turkey "Can't Stuff This"

Chi Town Girl cheered me up with a Thanksgiving video. I went searching for more and found this one. I hope it brings a smile to your face.

An Unhappy Ending

As I was driving to work tonight, I passed a 250 pound man beating up on a much smaller man.  The little guy was trying to fight back, but he just wasn't strong enough to do any damage.  I knew I had to do something so I stopped my car, got out, and jumped on the big guy in an attempt to stop him.  Together we fought and managed to bloody the big guy's nose.  Unfortunately, that was all we could do and now he was beating on two of us.  All of a sudden a policeman appeared on the scene.  He fired a shot into the air and the big guy stopped fighting.  We thought we were saved.  Then, in a blink of an eye, the policeman was gone.  He did not stop the big guy's blows.  When he saw the coast was clear, he took up the battle again.  He stopped when the little guy was laying unconscious in the middle of the street.

The bully walked away laughing.  He was already in search of his next victim.  I stood in the street and cried.  I cried  for the little man and I cried because the policeman who could have stepped in and helped did nothing.

I should be old enough to know life is not fair and that sometimes there is no justice, and I do know this, but I can't accept it.  I wonder, is the fight worth it?  This battle has sickened me.  Is it time to just surrender?   No one would notice or care if I wasn't there

Everything Remains The Same

Nothing changed. Nothing will ever change.

Today's memo features me again.  Here is a snippet.

If you have students arriving to your class late regularly and you have not started using the late log, please start using it after Thanksgiving. Once you have the late log, you can call the parents and let them know their child was late. It works very well with the majority of our students. I saw five students walking into their math class one after another for a 3rd period class after the late bell. And this was an upper level class with all seniors. I would hope everyone agrees that all students should be on time to their class and it is the teacher’s job to make sure the students get to class on time.

And then there is the group that was invited to Florida for the holiday, the ones who can do no wrong.  Nothing illegal but how about immoral?  Favoring one group of teachers over another is not very professional.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Read my preparatory notes here.

Mr. I Am Right And You Are Wrong

All yesterday's meeting would have required was an open dialog and there would be no issues to discuss.  But, no, Mr. I Am Right And You Are Wrong prefers lecturing.  (I'll have to remember this next time he complains about a teacher not getting enough kids to speak in class.)

The whole incident revolved around a young man with some emotional problems whose recommendation  I would not write.  The boy did not know who to go to as he is fairly new in the country so I suggest he ask Mr. I Am Right And You Are Wrong as he knew the boy better than I did.  The boy is fragile and I didn't want to tell him my real reasons for saying no.  And, if the conversation was allowed, Mr. I Am Right And You Are Wrong would have heard my reasons and about the 15 recommendations for AP kids that I already wrote.

Mr. I Am Right And You Are Wrong can go around the school and ask anyone as I know he has been doing.  He'll hear exactly what I would have told him had I been given the chance.

Why He Is Such A Jerk

I couldn't download it, so you will have to go here to hear it.  Only a fraction of the bit is online, but it is still funny and worth listening to.

Why He Is Such A Jerk

Z 100 just ran a story entitled Why He Is Such A Jerk.  I wish I had pen handy so I could have written it down.  Basically, it had to do with his unit being the size of an underdeveloped grape.  I laughed so hard I woke my husband.  I don't know who they were referring to but I know someone who would have fit the profile.  I'm going to see if I can find that sound bit later.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I Guess I Should Just Give Up

I'm wrong again. 

I'm only up to homework 34 but I should be up to homework 35.

I'm one of those people that never learn.

And On A More Positive Note

I think I am making progress with Problem Boy.  He's been showing up in class.  He's been working and we've even managed to laugh a little at my persistent phone calls.  He's promised to help with the Smart Board we are getting soon.

He might even make it this term.

If I can get through to this kid, I am a winner, no matter what any administrator thinks.  (Problem Boy cut math most of last year.)

Look Out

I don't cause the problems, normally I am not a spiteful person.

Push me and I will push back.  I don't care if I exasperate the problem.

I will not back down! 

I don't do things out of spite but I respond with finesse to those who do things to spite me.

If He Used His Brain He Wouldn't Be Such ...

"I"m right and you are wrong."  [Discussion over]

The department meeting was just as joyful as I predicted it would be.

We were told that if we teach higher level classes we have to write college recommendations, it is our obligation and duty.  Even if we don't know the students that well, we can always check transcripts online and have them give us resumes.

Teaching AP calculus is a higher level class and I write tons of recommendations. I like to include anecdotes and personal information, things that would convince the person reading what I wrote that I knew the student well.  I want the reviewer to be swayed by what I write, convinced that what I am saying is true and that the school should take him/her.  Over the years, I've realized that I don't have enough to write about when I only know the students since September, a few short months.  Even when the kids are doing well in the beginning,  I've seen some develop severe case of senioritis and blow off their senior year.  I often wish I could retract the recommendation I wrote.

This year I decided not to write recommendations for kids I only know a short time, the exception being the kids who have gone above and beyond by volunteering to tutor another student.  I've been unyielding and will continue to do so.  Good students should be able to go back to former teachers, teachers who really know them and get the recommendations they need.  The college counselor told me a tenth grade teacher who knows the student well can write a recommendation that will be accepted by the college.  (A certain person who shall remain nameless here does not agree with that.  Where that person gets the information from, is beyond me.)  In fact, he recommends the student go to this tenth grade teacher for an in depth recommendation rather than the superficial recommendation I could supply.  He also said there is no right or wrong answer as to who should write the recommendation.

I was always under that conference meant discussion, a bringing together of different ideas and a chance to arrive a conclusions beneficial to all.  "I'm right and you are wrong" is not the way to have a conversation.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

How Did Things Change So Much?

I remember when older, more experienced teachers were valued.  The principal of the first school I taught in did not want to release me to my new school because I was important to the school, I helped the kids succeed. When did things change? (I had taught 8 years then and he stopped releasing everyone who wanted to transfer.) Now, they can't push us out the door soon enough.

Tomorrow is another departmental conference.  Will I, or one of my contemporaries be the topic of the meeting?  Will we spend an entire period hearing how awful we are and how we do nothing right?

I remember asking my AP why Ms. H, Mr. L and Ms. E all got the best programs in the department.  He said they were near the end of their careers.  He wanted them to go out in a blaze of glory.  He promised my time would come.

How did things change so much?

Pretty Boy


Not Even Cute On The Outside

While looking for something else, I came across this and couldn't resist.  It reminded me of someone I know.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Race To Nowhere

Thanks Mrs. B for pointing this out.

Party Hardy

I'm not the only one noticing the rampant favoritism around.

I'm not the only one noticing the groups that party hardy with the person in charge getting favorite treatment.

I'm not the only one seeing them getting the best classes to teach.

I'm not the only one seeing them having their ideas and views becoming policy for the rest of the department to follow.

I'm not the only one seeing them have the same classroom problems everyone else has and seeing their problems ignored.

I'm not the only one that realized regents statistics were not e-mailed to everyone this year, probably because the party hardy crew did not do as well as some of the undesirables.

If I were the boss and I had a group of young, impressionable people working for me, calling me "father" and doing whatever I said, I might favor them too.

The contract says nothing about the boss having to be a nice guy, or even a human guy.  Bosses like this one know how to fragment their departments and hold back progress.  They know how to hurt, not how to help.  It is a shame.  Bosses like the one described know how to do whatever they want within the confines of the contract. 

Friday, November 19, 2010


Page 33 of today's Newsday has an article pointing out that 12th grade students read below the level of 1992's students.  Bush set a goal of every student reading at grade level by 2014  and Obama wants to set a goal of having the largest proportion of college graduates in the world.

Page 23 of the same paper has Blomberg saying he will eliminate 6000 teaching positions.

Sounds like a major conflict of priorities here.  But, what do I know.  I am one of those teachers whose position could be eliminated.  (If I decide to retire, I won't be replaced.)

Bloomberg targets jobs, services in NYC budget gap

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is aiming to bridge a multibillion-dollar budget gap by cutting thousands of jobs and trimming services to the bone, including eliminating overnight staffing at 20 fire companies, filling fewer potholes and shrinking library hours.
The mayor took his budget knife to the city spending plan in a November budget update released yesterday. The city is also hiking a variety of fees, including ones for parking, taxicab licenses and permits for using ballfields in city parks. Together, the moves shrink the projected deficit from $3.3 billion to $2.4 billion for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
The plan raises the city's annual pension reserve from $600 million to $1 billion, putting total pension contributions in the next fiscal year at $8.3 billion. Officials said more city employees have pensions, and are living longer after retirement.
Bloomberg warned in a statement this plan would not be the end of bad news.
"More spending reductions are going to be necessary, and we have to continue to reduce the number of employees we have by not filling positions," he said. "We simply cannot afford the size of our current workforce."
The budget shrinks the city's 300,000-person workforce by 2,100 jobs this year and 8,300 next fiscal year; that includes 6,200 layoffs and other reductions through attrition.
Job cuts are spread throughout the agencies, with more than 6,000 teaching positions being eliminated, along with 350 police department civilian posts, 200 supervisor jobs in the sanitation department and 200 jobs in the child welfare agency.
Within the transportation department, one proposal calls for more than 600 street maintenance workers to take a required one-week furlough, which the city said would result in 9,000 fewer potholes filled for the year.
The fire department expects to save $15 million by unstaffing 20 fire companies overnight, and redeploying those firefighters.
Libraries will be open fewer hours, and funding is being reduced for substance abuse outpatient treatment and in clinics that treat developmental disabilities.
Inmates at city correctional facilities will get fewer slices of bread each day - down from eight to six - for a savings of $350,000 a year, and some homeless shelters will be doubling up families into shared rooms, saving $1.7 million a year.
New Yorkers can also expect a number of fees to go up. Metered parking rates in Manhattan below 86th Street will rise from $2.50 to $3 per hour, and from 75 cents to $1 in all other parts of the city.
Welfare recipients who get city-subsidized child care will have to pay higher child-care co-payments - up from $5 to $15, generating an extra $13 million per year. Ballfield permit fees will rise from $16 to $25, pouring another $720,000 annually into city coffers. Taxi drivers will have to pay $84 for driver's licenses, up from $60, raising another $1 million annually.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said some of the budget proposals were on the right track, but expressed alarm at those that affect children, seniors and the poor.
The City Council does not have to approve the mayor's cuts.

12th-graders' reading scores below 1992 scores

MIAMI - A national education assessment released Thursday shows that high school seniors have made some improvement in reading, but remain below the achievement levels reached nearly two decades ago.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress, referred to at the Nation's Report Card, tested 52,000 students in reading and 49,000 in math across 1,670 school districts in 2009.
Students scored an average of 288 out of 500 points in reading comprehension, two points above the 2005 score but still below the 1992 average of 292. Thirty-eight percent of 12th-grade students were classified as at or above the "proficient" level, while 74 percent were considered at or above "basic." "Today's report suggests that high school seniors' achievement in reading and math isn't rising fast enough to prepare them to succeed in college and careers," U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said.
Cornelia S. Orr, executive director of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees development tests, said she was encouraged by the fact reading scores had gone up in recent years.
The trouble advancing student reading skills extends across grade levels. Reading scores for fourth- and eighth-grade students in 2009 were only four points higher than in 1992.
The No Child Left Behind law championed by President George W. Bush set a goal for every student to read and do math at their grade level by 2014, but the national assessment scores indicate students are still trailing significantly behind. In 2009, 33 percent of fourth-grade and 32 percent of eighth-grade students scored at the proficient level in reading.
In a statement, Duncan noted that President Barack Obama set a goal for the United States to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by the end of the decade, and that in a survey that accompanied the reading and math test, 86 percent of seniors said they expect to graduate college.
"They'll only succeed if we challenge and support them to raise their academic performance and offer them the financial support they need to pay for college," Duncan said.
He said he is confident that goal can be reached with the efforts the administration currently has under way, including providing $40 million in Pell Grants, and investing in efforts for states to create data systems to help track student performance.
The scores released Thursday also show that a stubborn achievement gap remains across racial and ethnic groups. There was no significant change in the score or gap in reading for black and or Hispanic students since 1992. White and Asian students both scored higher than they did in 2005.

Love Some Of The Kids

I love some of my kids.  I have been trying to get them to use an online program, just extra credit so far, and surrpisingly, some have!  I got this e-mail today.  (This boy is only in the country about 7 months)

hello miss pod

i try to finish my castle learning.com homework but i need a scientific calculature. so i did;nt finish my homework i gonna finish tommarrow sorry about that.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wake Up Call

I was talking to a colleague this morning about the kids we teach.  She teaches the brightest of the bright and was complaining that these kids are not nearly as good as the kids she had years ago.  I don't agree.

These kids have IQ's and work ethics that are equivalent.  The problem is not them, it is the system, something I have been complaining about for years.  Today's emphasis on test scores keeps us from doing any real teaching.  And, moving everyone ahead, having classes of 34 with kids ranging from barely literate to college level makes teaching to the top impossible.

America, we've got to wake up and start teaching again.

Stressful For Me Too

I love my night class.  For once, I have a room full of motivated, hard working students who are rarely absent or late.  They come to class prepared and have to be thrown out at 8:20 when the class ends.  But, they are also some of the worst math phobics I have ever met.  One told me she is seeing a dermatologist for hair loss which started when the term started.  Several others cry whenever we start a new topic, watery eyes caused by the stress of believing they will not understand.  One, who spent hours in the math lab and knew everything handed in a blank paper.  She just couldn't focus on the problems on the sheet.  I wish I had a degree in psychology to help me help some of these people.

Last night was the worst.  I handed back papers and watched one of my favorite students fall apart when she saw her grade of 58.  As her tears fell, mine fell as well.  It took a while, but I finally calmed her down and convinced her that her hard work and perseverance would win at the end and she would pass. 

I love this class but I so can't wait until it ends.  I never thought teaching motivated people could be this difficult.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

They Wore Her Down

The city got what it wanted and she got peace.  Congrats to Moriah on her retirement.  Go over and wish her luck and happiness.

Makes Sense To Me

A reader's opinion:

Hi, Po'd,

I just have to get this off my chest. I believe in my heart of hearts that Bloomberg has only put Cathy Black up as a sacrificial lamb and knew that her appointment would be blocked. I think he really intends for one of the ed deformers to serve as chancellor. If he puts a noneducator up first and everyone screams foul, when he puts forth a name like Rhee or some such, the general public can no longer argue about the new chancellor not being an educator. So then only the teachers and the UFT and AFT will scream foul and we will look terrible again to the public, as cave men trying to stop any progress in the world of education.

Just my opinion.

Thanks for listening,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Big But

Sacrificing the extra periods of calculus to create an extra class seemed like a good idea.  So many kids were being left out, it seemed like the only option when I suggested doing it.  And, I am not sorry.  I just marked test papers and some of the highest achievers would have been left out had the extra class not been created.  (I intend to do an analysis of the data that is used to place the kids in AP and prove there is little to no correlation to the standards currently being used.  That, I promise will be a powerful post.) The kids are great and happy to be able to take the class.  But, and it is a big one, the cut back in class time is taking a toll on many of the kids.  They just aren't getting the time they need to work on problems and develop their skills.   These kids are bright and while they do well, it takes some of them a while to get the material.  Many never took pre-calculus and lack thinking tools as their trig class only taught them one thing--how to pass the regents--memorize and regurgitate. Analysis and clue searching was never mentioned.

Everyone is saying how important education is, how we have to educate our children to keep ahead in the world.  We are being compared to China and Japan and even some underdeveloped nations and we are see our kids lagging behind.   We want to keep up but when it comes to spending money on the kids who will benefit the most, the money is not there. 

It is time for Obama and company to stop giving lip service to the value of education and start giving it what it needs.

Blog Talk Radio

Next Internet cast; (9:00 tonight)


Tonight's show, November 16 our guest will be the esteemed, the irreverent, the opinionated, the frank, and the honest Arthur Goldstein. Arthur is UFT chapter leader and ESL teacher at Francis Lewis High School in Queens. Arthur write for Gotham Schools, Huffington Post and the Indypendent. Tonight we will discuss the Mayor 4 Life Bloomberg's decision to hire Hearst Corporation

This is sure to be riveting radio. As always, the call in # is (917) 932-8721

Monday, November 15, 2010


Home for two hours between jobs.  Instead of relaxing I called parents!

The parents are great and responsive.  The kids are not terrible, they just refuse to work and do what they are supposed to do.

I don't have answers.  Hopefully our next chancellor will.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I had dinner last night with a friend who recently retired from the XXX High School.  (You've probably read about this as it has been covered on many blogs and in the local newspapers.)  She is one of the teacher that brought charges, serious charges against her AP and the principal.  She is one of the ones that felt victorious when the arbitrator found in favor of the teachers.  She is one of the ones that feels she wasted her time.

1.  The chapter chairman, the one who fought the fight, is gone from that school.  He was forced, under threat of continued "U"s to leave.  He was just too good at exposing the misconduct of the administrators in question.

2.  The young teachers in the department are still discouraged (and forbidden) from talking to the veteran teachers in the department.

3.  Three brand new  teachers, right out of college were hired in September.  (So much for a hiring freeze in that school and no, these are not special education teachers.)

4.  The AP and the principal go on as if nothing has happened.  Other than a slap on the wrist (if they even got that much) they faced no penalties for their actions, actions they were found guilty of.

Continue reading here, for impunity hitting closer to home.

ATR Info

Check out the ICE blog for important ATR information.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

How, Not What

I read somewhere that Black's supporters believe she knows exactly what skills students need to survive in the 21st century.  Knowing what they need is not the issue.  You don't need any kind of special degree or experience to know kids need to know how to read, write, do basic calculations, have a rudimentary knowledge of computers, have people skills, etc.  The "what" is not the issue.  The "how" is.  Ms. Black knows nothing about the workings of schools, the issues they face and thus has no clue "how" to solve the problem.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Blame Me, But You Still Pay

When kids do absolutely no work for several weeks, they are totally unprepared to take an exam.  (These kids are capable of passing if they would only use their brains instead of their mouths.)  Most were clueless during today's test and started blaming me for their lack of readiness.  I said, "Blame me all you want, but you will be in summer school, not me."  Their complaints suddenly stopped.

Your Rights Under American With Disability Act

I got this e-mail from a blogging buddy who asked me to post it for her.  It is a story that needs to be told.

I am wondering if you would put my story -- of having gotten exasperated one night and screamed at my principal ending in the Rubber Room on your blog. It's not just the extremity with which I was dealt, but my principal knew I was disabled -- I am a person with XXX. So, according to the American's with Disabilities Act I was supposed to be put in the least restrictive environment especially for my first major offense.

What I want is for other people with disabilities to MAKE THE UFT aware that they have the right to be pulled out of these kind of situations. It was because there was an undercurrent of "potential lawsuit" that my case was expedited so I didn't spend two year there.

But the damage was done. I let myself completely go -- and I've just discovered I have spinal stenosis in my lumbar and sacral regions and in my neck. I spent some of the time in the room helping my mother get her hip replaced. But, I did nothing for me. I didn't care about me. Certainly, a lot was losing YYY. But, I had been living in a room of people considered "outcasts" and that reinforced my overall feeling as an XXX. A guy nearly raped me by scaring me into trusting him and then manipulating me into getting into his car. People taunted me -- other people stuck up for me, but I felt like I had been violent, evil, uncontrollable.

I used XXX for the disability because this could be any one's problem. The goal is that the UFT has to be proactive for these folks -- especially when they have been teaching for over 15 years without a problem.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sports Trump Academics

At least this time it did.  Read it here.

Community Colleges Grade Rates

Klein might have graduated them, but they don't know much.  Check out this article in the Queens Courier

The colleges are now faced with provideing all sorts of remediation and special services.  At this rate, medical schools will be facing the same problems in the near future.

09-10 School Closure Retrospective

No Waiver For Black

There is an on-line petition here: http://www.petitiononline.com/DenyWaiv/petition.html
Please consider adding your name.

Thanks, Jonathan.  I already signed but didn't think of adding it to my blog until I got the e-mail.

Blame Game

I'm tired of the blame game.Teachers are not responsible for everything their students do, but parents are not all to blame either.  This year, as in pat years, I have met lots of concerned parents, parents who have done everything and more to help their child succeed.  They've been checking homework and signing tests.  They've showed up in school whenever they were asked and even when they weren't asked.  They've punished and they've rewarded. In spite of this, their kids screw up.

I don't have answers, only observations and from what I have observed, there are people out there that will never do what is expected of them, what is correct, no matter what the consequences or rewards might be.  It is time to stop pointing fingers. Sometimes there are no solutions.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Letting It Out

There are so many stories I want to tell.  So many misdeeds and misconducts I wish I could disclose.  Too many people read this blog now and I don't want to make any more enemies than I already have.  I have begun using new outlets.  It feels good to let the stories flow.


I cheated.  I rigged my last algebra test to make sure almost everyone passed, at least I tried to do this.  It worked in the small class but not in the larger one.  It's not that I wanted to give grades for free, it's that I wanted to encourage these kids, show them that passing was possible and that getting a good grade was also something they could accomplish.

I gave the exam on a day when I knew the period would be shortened. But, I left the same number of questions on the exam and decided to see what would happen.  As they worked, I realized finishing would be impossible so I told them they could leave out the last two problems.  A few of the kids managed to do them anyway and I promised extra credit.  The test was worth a little over 100 points.

The results were good.  All except for one passed, and passed well.  The kids were excited.  One girl told me this was the first math test she passed since eighth grade and she had no idea how she even got to eleventh with her dismal math record. 

That day, we started a new topic today.  The kids greeted the topic with enthusiasm and worked hard, hopefully boosted up by the good grade.

I'm not worried about inflated grades.  One test out of 8 for a semester won't carry much weight.  I am happy about the effect these grades had on my students and the way they motivated them to keep on plugging.  Let's hope it keeps going strong.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

No Surprise To Me

I didn't need a NY Times article to tell me there is still a huge achievement gap in our schools.  I've been writing about it and trying (unsuccessfully) to do something about it for years.