Sunday, March 29, 2015
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
The grade fixing at John Dewey HS is not local to that school. It is epidemic to all schools in the city.
Years ago, before I retired, I ran a credit recovery program. I wanted standards and insisted on it. I carefully chose 300 problems of varying difficulty and set up two online assignments. After several weeks it became obvious that the students were not doing them. Administration changed the two assignments adfsto one and then instead of 150 questions, only 75 were required. Still, many kids did not do the assignments. Those who did often had help. Several students told me they paid others to do assignments for them. I watched a teacher (an Assistant Principal) doing one of her student's assignments on a smart board with the entire class. Other teachers set aside class time to let students work on these assignments instead of doing their own class work. Students got credit for two classes in one.
John Dewey is under the microscope now but the inspection should extend throughout the city. With the push to pass everyone, for schools to stay open and for Principals to get their big bonuses, cheating is epidemic. It will continue until things change. It is about time schools are getting caught. Maybe now education will get back to the way it should be.
Monday, March 23, 2015
Friday, March 20, 2015
The AP had a simple demand. Everyone had to pass. Even one failure meant the teacher was no good and not doing her job properly. The teachers did the best they could to do his bidding. They did not want to be subjected to his verbal abuse and they certainly did not want to risk their jobs. In order to fulfill this commandment the teachers pretty much gave up teaching and focused on test prep. They taught their students how to work backwards from multiple choice and to use guess and check instead of thinking through the problem. This method worked rather well since it is possible to pass a regents by only getting some multiple choice questions correct.
The AP was happy with the group of teachers who followed his order. He rewarded those teachers with praise and good programs. He had parties for them. Those teachers basked in his praise, never once realizing how much they were hurting the students they passed along.
Now those students are in college where they actually have to produce to pass. They don't possess any basic algebraic skills, can't solve an equation or even add and multiply signed numbers. They don't know how to study. They want second, third, and fifth chances. They are angry because getting by with no work is no longer an option. They don't understand how life is so different now than it was when they were in high school.
The AP is not concerned with these students. He did his job. He got them out of his school and had great statistics too. Their future was not his concern as he would not be judged by whatever happened to them next.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Sunday, March 15, 2015
Tuesday three siblings and their spouses came together to bury their father. It was a sad day but the siblings knew their father had led a long happy and healthy life and it was his time to go. Tuesday evening sibling one did not feel so good and went to the emergency room. He never made it home. The doctors found a clot on one of his lungs and that was the end.
Today, two siblings and their spouses came together again to bury their brother. Lots of other family and friends came from near and far to offer hugs and support and to say goodbye to a man who loved life and was loved by all. The man was only 63 years young.
I'm still wiping tears but am also smiling as I remember the good times I had with this guy, the hours we spent hiding out on a back porch when the party we were attending was too loud. I remember the hugs and the laughter we shared throughout the years, the happiness when he told of his upcoming wedding, and the joy of celebrating his 60th birthday.
Eleven of us left the cemetery and went together to a nearby dinner for lunch. We sat and ate and talked about all the years we all had together and how, while not related by blood, we were family. One friend, one who usually eats only what is good for him had a huge piece of chocolate cake. He was celebrating his life and the knowledge that we all will go one day, some sooner than later.
This man went far too soon. But, he didn't know his days were numbered and he did not suffer any pain. I am glad he knew how much we all loved and respected him in his life and did not wait until it was too late to show how much we cared.
Thursday, March 05, 2015
E-mails kept coming from my students asking about class tonight as may live far. I looked out and saw no sign of the weather improving and decided to cancel. Two and a half hours of math is not worth the risk of an accident. I didn't expect the school to close and felt I should look out for myself and my students. I called to let the school know and again heard "be safe."
I checked e-mails after 2 o'clock and found this message:
Due to the severe weather, all regularly scheduled classes and activities that begin at 4:30PM or later are cancelled for today, March 5, 2015. Additionally, Community College will close at 5PM.
I'm glad the powers that be at the college made a safe decision.
Monday, March 02, 2015
Too bad she still hated the kids she was entrusted to help, the kids who were the neediest in the building. The kids knew how she felt about them and so did their parents. Many adults in the building knew too.
She will read this and know it is about her. She will be angry. She'd be a fool to say something. No names are used and no school mentioned. But she will probably complain anyway, outing herself to everyone, even the people in charge.
Thursday, February 26, 2015
The little boy had trouble getting the license he needed to keep the position. It took multiple times for him to pass the exam but, like college, he eventually got through. Meanwhile he became more and more stressed by the senior teachers in his department. They knew his was incompetent and inexperienced and he hated anyone seeing the true him. The little boy started going after these teachers by making sure they had different preps every semester, courses they never taught and had no ready material for. Then he started writing letters (with grammatical mistakes). He stacked classes with the most difficult students so these teachers would have poor results and he made nasty comments to them and about them in front of colleagues and students.
The little boy felt loved, not by the students or the teachers, but by the Principal. He had power. He was making the lives of others as miserable as he could. The little boy was very happy.
If this fairy tale ended now, the little boy would be very happy, but alas, that will not happen. Eventually there will be a new Principal, maybe even one with standards and the little boy will be put in his place. The teachers being harassed are strong. They will stay and fight. They will not let the little boy win.
Monday, February 23, 2015
"There was a day I had to leave my office to attend to matters on the third floor. Since this does not happen very often I lost my way back. While wandering the halls I came across a young Caucasian man leaning on window sill on a cell phone. I asked the young man where he belonged and he told me to be quiet. He was talking to his friend. I repeated my request and again he told me to wait and asked me if I ever talked to friends. He then went on to tell me to be respectful. Finally he got off the phone and we could chat. I again asked him where he belonged and he told me the class he should have been in. I walked him back to class and told the teacher to let him in. I waited at the back door and watched, ready to write the teacher up for not handling the situation properly. I saw the teacher say something, saw the boy start to cry.I walked away. Now I must decide whether to write the teacher up for verbal abuse or for not taking proper action or both. Our students must learn to respect our authority and we must earn it and then demand it. We as a staff have a long way to go."
I heard the story and wondered why the Principal did not confiscate the phone and take the boy to his office and call a parent. At the very least I wondered why he did not bring the boy to the dean or guidance. I wondered why the poor teacher was being dumped on again. I wonder when the Principal will start earning the respect of the students and the staff.
Friday, February 20, 2015
The boy was a special education student in high school, a little higher functioning than most, he spent his years in main stream classes team taught by a special education teacher and a main stream teacher. XZ (The special education teacher recognized his ability but her hands were tied by the main stream teacher) The boy seemed to be off in space but always had the correct answer when the teacher questioned him.
The boy was unique in in this class of low functioning students. He had a brain that worked well and worked constantly and he liked to solve problems in unconventional ways. The methods, while correct, were not the ones in the solution manual and the main stream teacher was often confounded. She couldn't follow his logic and disrespected him and his ingenious methods. The main stream teacher did not like him because she was intimidated by his creativity.
Low and behold this main stream teacher went on to become chairman of the special education department. She no longer taught inclusion classes because she feared encountering students like this boy again and, as supervisor, she did not have to do this.
The boy, the one the special education supervisor did not like graduated high school and went on to college. He took classes calculus and physics and Shakespeare and Chinese. He studied with professors who liked creative thinkers. He did well. He is now studying engineering in a very prestigious university and will one day shine in his chose career.
This boy managed to overcome his inferior teacher, the one who never thought he would succeed, the one who now leads the department whose goal it was to help him succeed.
Saturday, February 14, 2015
Mulgrew loves his retired teachers. They sing his praises at meetings and, since they are not working they ask nothing in return. He doesn't have to waste time defending them or answering their questions.
Mulgrew might be in for a rude awakening. The new bunch of retired teachers don't remember or care about the union Shanker created. They and their colleagues have long been neglected and abused by the union of today. They will be smart enough to give their support to union leaders who care about teachers. No longer will they vote UNITY without any thought to consequences.
Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled to get my retro money. I just wish it wasn't on the backs of working teachers.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
The AP does not have to think too hard to come up with the best way to ruin every one's vacation. Armed with his lap top he will pay a visit to as many classes as possible late in the day. He knows the kids are already on vacation mode and the upcoming day of love is all that is on their teenage minds.
He is now happy. He feels his manhood swelling at the thought of the hours he will spend writing the reports to ruin their lives.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
The New York Historical Society has a wonderful exhibit now until April 19 on Chinese Exclusion/Inclusion in this country.Although I knew some of this history, the extent of the horrors these people experienced was something I never realized. The above statements were statements made by those incarcerated on Angel Island. The young woman pictured is sitting on a bunk watching and reading history. I watched her for 10 minutes and her only movements were to change screens. She looked like she was not moving until she saw it all. The ping pong paddles are from relations between US and China in the Nixon era.
This is an exhibit everyone needs to see to prevent this type of discrimination from happening again.
Monday, February 09, 2015
When I retired I worried I had done the wrong thing. I have to say I worried for nothing. Looking out the window, at the ice covering my car, I am glad I have no where to go and can play with these photos from the Museum of Natural History, taken yesterday. We were also able to stop at the New York Historical Society on the way home, no worries about writing lessons and being observed on a Monday full of snow and ice.