Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Vacation On The Cheap II

A good way to spend a Friday afternoon is at the Whitney.  Not sure when, but at some time instead of hefty admission price you can pay whatever you want.  Fridays they are open until 9 PM.  Right now, there is a great exhibit by Jeff Koons.  Included with your just about free price is an audio tour and even museum tours if you hit it on the right time.

Many of the museums have pay what you want nights.  The Craft Museum on Columbus Circle has this on Thursday and Friday evenings, the MOMA has Target Fridays.  Many participate in Bank Of America weekends.  Just get a credit card and then cancel if you don't want to use it but keep the card to get into museums free.  Also, check before paying as city museums have only a suggested admission.  You can pay anything you want.  Save the $25 for lunch.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Teacher Goddess

Two little girls walked into temple this morning and were overjoyed to see their teacher.  They hugged her and she returned their sweet endeavors

I remember growing up and thinking my teachers were Gods and Goddesses too.  Even in high school seeing them in a store or on the street was better than meeting a rock singer or a movie star.  Times have changed.  Kids don't revere teachers anymore.   It is sad.  I hope these two children keep on loving their teachers and always have ones like the one they saw today.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Vacations On The Cheap I

If you are a New Yorker and can't afford big vacations don't think you can't have a fun vacation anyway.  People say the city is expensive and it can be but, there are so many things to do and see that don't cost anything you won't be able to do them all in a week.  Instead of my usual bitch posts (which I do to bring a smile to the faces of those stuck with incompetent administrators) I will write about some of those in my next few posts.

A great freebee is the fashion museum at FIT.  There are changing exhibits all the time and you can get pretty close to the amazing clothes (lots of guards so not too close) that are not hidden behind glass.

On the north side of the school, which is on 27th St and 7th Ave, there usually is an exhibit by students.  Last week the photo show was fashion on the High Line.  Also exhibited was the amazing fashions.  I've seen other photo shoots, clothes made to resemble birds and even creative use of milk cartons.  There are two galleries in the main area with a third one opened occasionally where I've seen exhibits including British Invasion fashion, boots and motor cycle jackets.  The main galleries are the real highlight.  Currently there is an exhibit on the history of lingerie.  They don't allow pictures inside but they are permitted outside.

While in the area, check out the High Line (free)  Chelsea art galleries (also free) and the Rubin Museum (inexpensive).  If you really need to watch your pennies, pack a lunch to eat while walking on High Line or buy a light lunch at the Chelsea Market.  If you don't like the crowds on the High Line, just walk along Hudson River.  The parks and the water views are breathtaking.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


I heard some of these posts are affecting certain people the way ice affects a bad toothache.

I must be doing something right if people are seeing themselves in what I write.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Evaluations By A Know Nothing Novice

The experienced teacher knew her very low functioning students had to unwind a little before they got down to the business of learning after a weekend, especially a weekend that involved a fun school outing.  She knew the best way to get them to settle down was to spend 10 to 15 minutes in the beginning of the class letting them talk about the weekend.  She knew these students found it impossible to work for 48 minutes anyway so no educational time would be lost.  Besides, part of education is socialization and learning communication, an activity she facilitated during this time.

It just so happened that this was the day the inexperienced AP showed up at her door to do an observation.  The AP knows nothing about special education and less than nothing about dealing with this population.  The teacher knew in her head that she should drop the small talk and begin her lesson but her heart told her to continue doing what she knew was best for her students.  She followed her heart and let brain lead the way to teach the best possible way.

The novice AP was so happy with what she saw, she wet her pants.  She found a way to give the 30+ year veteran teacher an ineffective rating.  Her day was made.  She did not notice how well the teacher did in reaching her students.  She did not notice how well the teacher connected with this population and used this connection to help them grow.

The experienced teacher has had enough of the humiliation she received at the hands of this novice and retired.  The kids are now in the hands of a person who cares nothing about their education and their future.

Every day more teachers walk away from administrators like this one.  The teachers aren't going to suffer.  They will reap the economic rewards of a lucrative pension.  The kids will be the one to suffer.  If only the Principal had a child with special needs.  Then, he might care about what is happening to the kids in the hands of people like this.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Afternoon Walk

I ran into an old friend from Packemin while walking on the Cross Island Parkway this afternoon.  He left the school over 10 years ago and has no idea how bad things have gotten there.  He was shocked to here how many good teachers were harassed out of the school.

This friend had been some who worked closely with the kids, did much above and beyond the scope of the job.  He remembered what I and others did for these kids and felt sad for the kids without teachers like us around.  I told him about the incompetents in charge of some departments, people without experience in the field supervised.  I told him about the AP who instructed her teachers to give out answers during exams and to complete credit recovery assignments for students.  He knew what I was saying was true.  He was disgusted by the turn and what has happened to a place he once felt had the well being of students at heart.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Kudos To Schools With Standards

After reading a Newsday editorial admonishing Nassau Community College for their poor graduation rates, I wrote this letter.  They didn't publish it, so I am putting it up here.

I don't know anything about NCC but I work at a different Community College and see similarities in graduation rates.  I say kudos to both schools for keeping their standards and not giving diplomas to students who have not earned them.  

Not all, but many students come into class expecting to do nothing, and pass, just like they did in high school.  They want extra credit and seat credit time.  They expect review sheets where the teacher does every problem for them.  They are so used to the teacher being admonished if they fail, they expect this to continue in college.  They don't buy books and they don't do homework or study.  They can't sit in class for two hours without being on their cell phone, texting or using Facebook.  Aside from this, their skills are appalling.  They can barely multiply.  Division and fractions do not exist in their worlds and decoding is a lost skill.   

I am thrilled to work for an institution, that offers help to students, offers a softer path to college than four year institutions do, but doesn't give away anything.  A degree from this school means something.  I am sure NCC has the same population and the same policy.

Stop pushing the college to graduate more.  You will only end up creating college graduates prepared for nothing, similar to what the public schools do today.  Kudos to these institutions for keeping education real.

Monday, July 14, 2014

When Personal Grudges Are Most Important

When an art teacher is hired to teach reading when a reading teacher is ready, willing and able to take the position something is wrong.

Personal feelings are getting in the way of educating students.  It is more important to the administration to punish the teacher by not hiring her than to get the right person to teach the class.

So much for Principals and Assistant Principals caring for those students whose welfare they are in charge of.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Pushed Out Before Her Time

After 30 years the teacher had enough and retired.  It had nothing to do with the students and it wasn't to get the extra money the contract would give her.  No, it had to do with her incompetent, mean spirited administrator.  A person who had no idea what it took to teach a population like the one this woman taught.

This incompetent rated the teacher ineffective time and time again.  Eventually a different admin came to observe.  This admin raved about what she saw and rated the teacher highly effective.

The kids lost a good caring teacher.  The admin is happy.  One more senior teacher, one more threat to the admin's security is gone.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hey Mona Davis--Your Kid Could Be In Deep Doodoo Without Tenure

I am no longer teaching so I pose no threat to this child or any child but I state here and everywhere that teacher tenure is a must for students.

Many years ago I sat in on an IEP conference for one of my students.  I wanted the boy to be given a reader, a writer and a calculator for exams.  The psychologist and the AP present did not agree.  The parents wanted what I wanted.  Without fear of reprisal, I was able to firmly state my case, emphasize my long knowledge of the boy and his abilities.  I won but made no friends from those supporting the opposite position.  I also suffered no consequences.

So Ms. Davis, if you get your wish and end teacher tenure I hope your child never needs anyone to stand up for her.  No teacher should have to risk a job to do what is right for a child.

Message Schools Like Packemin Are Giving Students

Teacher:  John, why are you here during the summer?  You don't show up during the school year.

John:  That's right Miss.  Why should I come to school every day when I can show up for just 15 days during the summer and get my credits!


Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Shame On You

I'll write here what those still teaching can't.  If you see yourself in these words, feel very ashamed because not only are you committing these atrocities, you are doing so with knowledge.  I am willing to bet there are dozens of you all over the city.

I know you are wondering who I am referring to, but most readers of this blog probably know from the title that I am referring to a bunch of school administrators, particularly Principals.  You know, those people who are "master educators" and want to do everything for the good of the student.

I say shame on you because your policies have put incompetent, inexperienced, uneducated people in charge of individual departments in your schools.  You have allowed and probably encouraged these individuals to abuse competent and experienced teachers, to humiliate them and to drive them away from education.  It is because of you (yes the new contract too) that so many are fleeing the schools, retiring as soon as possible. You claim to care about education, but would you want your child to be in the hands of one of these people? Bright kids suffer and don't get me started about kids with special needs.  Would you want your daughter or son being taught by someone who was told my their administrator to give out answers during regents or other statewide exams? Would you want your child cared for by an administrator who had no respect for them? How would you feel when your child received a diploma but could barely read or write and then was sent on to fail in college?

Yes, shame on you for what you have done.  Bloomberg might have considered you master educators.  It seems Farina and DeBlasio have no problem thinking you are great.  But, I know the truth and so does every in the public school system.  Even you know you are a fraud.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

My Half Empty Cup

It is easy to see the cup as half full rather than half empty when it is not your cup.

About a month ago the sciatica pain I sometimes suffer from returned.  I noticed it slowly getting worse every day so I promptly called my pain doctor, made an appointment and then arranged for the much dreaded epidural steroid shot.  By the day of the shot, the pain was awful, but I was confident that I would be walking with a minimum amount of pain in a day as that is what happened with this treatment two years ago.

By day 1 I felt a little better, by day 2 I felt I could walk and we headed to the beach.  Unfortunately the pain set in before I reached the sand but I hobbled through and managed to enjoy the day.  By day 4 I hurt but was not ready to stop so I headed to Gangster Museum on St. Marks Place with my husband and friends.  The pain started slow but increased to being unbearable.  Calls to the doctor were met with the word "patience" and it could take two weeks to work.  But, the pain grew worse and worse and finally I got in touch with the doctor to get a pain killer.  I read the side effects of this new pill and was not happy so I tried to stick to taking them only before bedtime.  Yesterday I decided to give them a chance during the day.  MISTAKE!  Nausea and dizziness came along with pain relief.  I preferred the pain.

Today, almost two weeks after the shot, I am able to walk again and only have slight, bearable discomfort.

Over the weekend I sat and cried.  I saw myself never getting better, never being able to live the life I loved.  The inactivity I have been living is killing me.  Not being able to walk and run is not sitting well with me.  My closest friend was diagnosed with lung cancer in October.  She has been forced to give up work, going out, her hair, and everything she loves but still she was not depressed.  She met every phase of her recovery with a smile and a belief that what she was going through now was only a temporary set back.  Her illness is life threatening.  Mine isn't.  Her cup was never being emptied.  I wish I had her attitude.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

I Live and Will Die In Queens

I am a New Yorker and love everything the city has to offer.  It is the city I was born in and the city I hope to live in until I die.  I always thought I wanted to live in Manhattan, to be in the heart of things.  As I get older, my desires and wants have changed.  I realize I will never be able to afford a three bedroom, two bathroom co-op in the heart of the city and at this stage of my life nothing less will suffice.  I love my husband but want to be able to have space between us and I certainly do not want to wait my turn to use the bathroom.  I don't want to shlep laundry to the basement and I certainly don't want to have to take a bus to get to the subway living in Manhattan.

This New Yorker has decided to spend the rest of her time right where I am now, in my own home in Queens.  I only just realized that living here is like having it all.  The bus on my corner gets me to the subway in a half hour or less and the E or F train gets me to midtown in another 30 or so minutes.  Living in Queens also gives me easy access to the beaches and wonders of Nassau and Suffolk county.  I am 20 minutes from both NY airports which take me almost everywhere in the world non stop although living in Queens I can experience the world without ever leaving my borough.  I can keep my car without selling a kidney to pay for parking.

I know lots of people moving to Manhattan in their retirement years.  I was at first jealous.  They had what I always wanted.  After careful consideration I realize these friends are not doing anything different than what I already do.  I am happy to stay put, exactly where I am today.