Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Woman Who Could Not Get Tenure

The woman did not understand why, year after year, her boss refused to give her job tenure.  She had done everything to insure the success of her department.  She lied, cheated and forced her underlings to do the same.    She carefully picked the victims who would take the blame whenever she got caught and gleefully threw them under the bus in hopes of getting ahead.  She saw her statistics grow beyond human belief.  She was queen of the world but she could not gain that all important job security.

Could it be her boss sees the truth?  Or perhaps he is waiting to toss her to the wolves and it will be so much easier to do without that nasty thing called tenure.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Respect and Consideration

As I checked messages this morning, I found one from the secretary of the math department asking me if I could cover an exam today.  When I called back she told me the teacher had an emergency and could not be there.  I immediately answered yes and then rearranged my day to help out.

When I picked up the papers I was greeted warmly and thanked profusely.  I told her it was no big deal.  The college treats its teachers with utmost care and consideration and most of us reciprocate and do whatever we can to help.

When I began my teaching career in high school I also did  whatever I could to help as I was treated with respect and consideration.  But, as the years progressed, that treatment got less and less.  In return, I did less and less to help administration out although I never scrimped on the kids.  

Today's admins don't see any reason to be nice or respectful to teachers.  Teachers have to do all to keep jobs.  It is sad they don't see honey catches more flies than vinegar.  They should remember whose backs they are being carried on.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

No Common Core Saves The Day

Judith Scott was a deaf, almost mute woman with Downs Syndrome.  She was pronounced ineducable and sent to live in an institution for the mentally retarded in 1950.  Because she could not here, and because she missed her twin sister dearly, she became a disturbing influence and deemed unworthy of any sort of training.  In 1985 her twin sister, Joyce, moved her to Oakland Ca, where everyone was entitled to an education.  While in Oakland, she attended Creative Growth Center and got interested in creating sculptures by wrapping different objects with yarn, scraps, and anything else available.

Judith Scott now has an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum.  She became a world renowned artist.

Judith was one of the lucky ones.  She had a sister who loved her and took care of her.  She got an education in something she had an ability to succeed with.  She didn't suffer in a classroom learning, subjected to Common Core.  Bless the hand on instruction she received and bring it back for all who need it.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

It's That Time Of Year

Love the spirit and lights on this house in Jamaica Estates--sight to behold.  This year there are even a few Chanukah decorations added.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Last night I handed back test papers and watched one of my favorite students face droop.  He said it wasn't the grade (it wasn't that awful although not his usual A), it was what I would now think of him that had him so upset.  I told him I don't judge anyone by a test grade but by the person I perceive them to be.  This young man is warm and outgoing. He usually completes all assignments and is always the last to leave the room. He malingers asking questions and answering questions of fellow students.  Anyone who meets him can see his fine character and that is what matters in the scheme of things.

Too bad teachers evaluations are now being reduced to numbers, numbers that can't show the things that go in to making a good teacher.

(Pictured above is Lincoln Center on a cold dreary day.)

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Grandeur At Home

Computer problems have prevented me from posting pictures for a while.  Right now I am using old computer as new one is meeting its maker.

Shown above are pictures of the Guggenheim Mansion in Sands Point.  What beauty in my own back yard.  I have to start exploring more close to home.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Rate Your Incompetent Administrator

Work in a department run by an AP who has no clue what he or she is doing?  Who has never taught the subject yet has no trouble writing you up as unsatisfactory?

We all know there are plenty of incompetents out there.  Go rate them here.  Let others know about he music teacher running the English department, the physical education teacher running the math history department or the math teacher running the special ed department.  Let others know the person deeming you developing or ineffective has been teaching a short time.

Thanks Chaz for sharing this.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

True Prediction

I wish I wasn't so good at making predictions because I knew from the very first class in August James would not finish successfully.  I could see it in the way he answered questions but never wrote anything down, by the smirk when I collected homework and he had none to hand in (although he did do one assignment late), by the way he sat in the back, arms folded and body relaxed, and by the way he did not hand in the pretty simple take home exams.  James scored 96 on his first exam and I told him that scared me.  His overconfidence wouldn't help as the class got harder.  I told him stories of previous students he reminded me over.  I could see he knew what I was talking about.

James did not show up for tonight's exam.  Since he has not handed in homework this is not a grade to drop so a zero will be averaged in its place.  I know there are problems he faces outside of class but he made a commitment to school that he I just not keeping.  I wish I could write that I hope he learns from experience  but I know from my experience it will be years, or maybe never until he learns.  I did my best to prevent his failing but it didn't help.  I could not prevent what I knew was inevitable.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


My Thanksgiving is now perfect.

I just opened an e-mail from Mulgrew thanking me for all that I do.

His sweet message mentions nothing about the $$$ I was supposed to receive by Thanksgiving but his good wishes mean so much more than a few bucks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


I sit here today, listening to the rain and watching the ice form on my windshield grateful for the job that  I not only loved but a job that has permitted me to retire and live a comfortable life.

I complained plenty while working at Packemin but never for one minute forgot how lucky I was to be there.  I was blessed with teaching the top students who also taught me different ways of doing things and for teaching the weakest kids who helped me learn tolerance and understanding and many street lessons.  I am thankful that the admins I never cared for and did not particularly like me never went after my job.  Only once, in my long career, did an AP ever try putting a letter in file and was unsuccessful.  I knew I could go to work every day, do what I felt was best and the only repercussion would be negative words from my supervisor.

Teaching was  a career I entered because I knew no other I was prepared for.  It was the best decision of my life and I give thanks for it daily.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Birth of School Administrator

How else can the people in charge be explained?  Or, more importantly, the people that put the people in charge?  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

E-mail From A Working Teacher

We have a teacher in the building, a 12 year-old math teacher who is a nephew of one of the men working in the guidance office.   He was hired last year when there was a supposed freeze on teacher hiring!  He had one music class which he did not have a license for.  One of the teachers is working with him in the math department and told me today that he is working on his masters.  We also have Sue in the building.  She is a wonderful person, GREAT teacher...the kids and her co-teachers think she is WONDERFUL, however she is overweight, over 50 and is paid too high.  I guess no one can look beyond all that because she has been an ATR for the past  5 years.  Question:  Why would this building be allowed to hire a newbie that is not tenured or fully certified but have an ATR who is working day to day?  Do I really have  to pay union dues to a union that closes it's eyes on its own members?
I am getting a bad taste in my mouth for the UFT...AFT and every union out there!  HELP!!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hating The Place That Should Be Loved

I opened up my Facebook page this morning and saw a post from a former colleague at Packemin.  He said the one place in the world he didn't want to go today was work.  I felt awful for him.

This guy always loved teaching.  He loved helping students and rejoiced in their success.  He came in early, stayed late and gave up prep and lunch periods to help them.  He worked summers and after school programs for the money but never thought of this as work.  It was a labor of love.  He never takes a day off and has over 200 sick days in his bank.

Until recently, every administrator this teacher worked under valued his teaching skills and his dedication.  He mentored new teachers.  The Principal and APs even asked and took his advice on many matters.  Things are different now.  The AP is an incompetent bimbo who rules by terror and belittles good teachers as a way of trying to push them out.  Their competence only emphasizes the AP's lack of ability. The Principal always takes the APs side.

Years ago I worked for a Principal who knew the best way to get teachers to work for the students was to respect them.  Too bad individuals like this no longer exist.  Too bad the only thing that matters are statistics. Lack of respect is the norm.  No wonder the teachers that can are leaving and the others are dreading going in every day.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Today's School

The teacher was writing on the board when he heard a loud bang.  He turned around and saw a boy kicking over furniture and throwing books on the floor.  The boys eyes were cold and the teacher felt if he had a gun, someone (probably him) would be dead.  Security was called, the boy was restrained and taken away.

The school gave the boy a one day suspension and sent him back to class.  The teacher filed a restraining order and the boy is now no longer allowed anywhere around him.

Monday, November 10, 2014

I am a Mother-In-Law

November 9, 2014

My new daughter is terrific.  So happy my son found the perfect life mate.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

A Year Already

I can't believe a year has passed already since my dad has died.  The English date was October 16 but the Jewish calendar marks tonight to end the year.

I go to say my last Kaddish tonight.  I couldn't handle going twice a day and I only managed to get to temple 4 days a week, but still, I am glad I went.  I decided to go when my mom died.  I know people like me often pay more religious people to say the prayer for them but paying someone to do my praying just did not seem right.  My mom and her family were religious and while there is no obligation for women to say Kaddish, I felt it was my obligation as there was no one else available to do it.  Besides, I never bought into the idea of women being less than men and wanted to do my part. My dad wasn't as religious but he said Kaddish weekly for my mom (his temple did not have daily services) and I wanted to honor him the way I honored her.  I started for them but ended up doing it for me.  While I am not sure what I believe, I know being in the presence of people who do believe and were committed to what they believed felt good.  Every night I was welcomed and made to feel a part of the community.  It felt good to be "10" (10 people are needed for a minyon, the number of people needed for prayer).  Orthodox only count men.  My temple counts everyone.

Two weeks ago an elderly temple member lost his wife.  His daughter brings him every evening.  They walk in together, her arm around him.  She gently helps him remove his coat and open his book to the correct page.  She helps him stand and sit and assists him up the stairs when the service is over.  Seeing them warms my heart and reminds me of the days I did this with my dad.

My son is getting married Sunday.  There is nothing my dad (and mom) wanted more than to see him walk down the aisle.  My dad loved his wife to be.  He won't be there but I know he would be happy and thrilled to see her wearing my mom's ring.

I've lit his candle and leave in a little while.  (This will be posted later this evening.)  I've gotten so much from the daily service and intend to stay a part of it, although not daily.

A year has gone by.  I don't know if there is any after life and I am not even sure what I believe happens after death.  But if there is something, I hope it is a world filled with happiness and my parents found each other and are getting ready to celebrate their upcoming anniversary together.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Crock Of BS

Van Buren HS is teaming up with Syracuse University to give students an opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school.  Courses will be $100 a credit as opposed to $60,000  year tuition at the school.

Van Buren claims the kids will get a great experience and opportunity.  I say BS!  They will be sitting in glorified high school classes with teachers who are forced to lower standards to pass them.  No AP tests might mean a grade doesn't depend on one class but no AP exam also means no standards.

The colleges get lots of $$$$ when high school kids take their classes off campus.  The high schools get some prestige and get to be written up in the newspaper.  The kids get a whole lot of nothing.

(source:  Queens Chronicle October 30, 2014)

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Divide and Conquer

The overwhelmed overworked teacher spoke up at the faculty meeting.  He was told the forum was inappropriate and offered another opportunity to air his grievance.  He sat down.  Another overwhelmed over worked teacher spoke up and then added some additional fuel to the fire.  He refused to stop.  Others knew he was right and in their hearts agreed even though they knew his actions might be inappropriate at the moment.  They secretly cheered him on for having the courage to say and do what they only felt.  Eventually, with no support, the teacher sat down and the meeting resumed.

The next day the Principal asked teachers to write statements that would be used against the overwhelmed overworked frustrated teacher.  While they sympathized they did as the Principal requested.  They feared for their jobs and for their tenure.  They claimed to dislike the overwhelmed overworked teacher even though he was one of them and his winning would only help them.

The Principal wants a staff divided and distrustful of each other.  He wants total control and for some insane reason believes this is the best way to gain it.  I wonder where the union is on all this?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Right Decision For Me

I recently had dinner with an old high school friend and we talked about the paths we took and the paths we did not take.

My friend started college with the intention of being an elementary school teacher.  She, like me, had no college educated role models aside from our teachers and knew of no other jobs open to us after graduation.  Unlike me, she decided not to go into teaching.  She had a fear of not being a very good teacher and did not want to do a job she would not excel at.  (She has since had second thoughts on the matter.)  Instead, my friend majored in sociology and after several jobs ended up working in the human relations department of a major realty company.  She worked there for 30 years, always received good reviews but was laid off anyway.  Several people were laid off and while it appeared to be age discrimination, there was no proof.  Now, in her 60's, she collects unemployment and does occasional freelance work (when she can get it) and sends out hundreds of resumes per week.  After she told me her story, she asked about mine.

I went into teaching too because I knew no other job open to a college graduate with a major in math.  I had no idea what anyone could possibly do with math, other than teach, and there was no one to guide me.  She asked me if I was happy with my decision.  Without hesitation I answered yes.  Knowing myself now, I know I could never have been happy sitting behind a desk.  (I don't do sedentary well.)  Besides, I found I loved working with students and being the center of attention in a classroom.  While I hated marking papers, writing tests, working endless hours at home and getting up early, the rewards I received being in the classroom more than made up for all the negative parts of the job.  While there, I never thought of teaching as work, it was a labor of love, an activity that was more enjoyable than anything else.

Of course I had classes that were sometimes difficult and there were kids I wasn't always crazy about but less than a handful that I really did not like.  And while administrators were never a favorite of mine, they pretty much left me alone (until the end) and I never feared for my job, even with the unexpected and sometimes non flattering observations.

I know things are different now and I am happy not to be part of the high school experience anymore.  Teaching there is no longer pleasurable.  I am blessed to be able to keep teaching in a local junior college where administration trusts teachers to do the right thing while in the classroom.  I've been asked how long I will keep working, and my answer is simple. I will work until it stops being fun.  The day that happens I finish the semester and walk out, not looking back and never to return.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Line From Madame Secretary

Lately when I see Blake he shakes like a chihuahua who just peed on the carpet.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Miracle of Photo Shop





Sunday, October 19, 2014

This Just In

In order to boost its school's college ready index a local high school has decided to give many of its special education classes AP status.  Since the students must take English and History, it costs nothing to add this designation.  When the chairperson was called on the insanity of placing students with borderline IQs in advanced classes, the AP responded "We help the students out on all exams anyway so the only difference now will be my teachers will have to know more advanced questions.  If the teachers want to keep their jobs they will see to it the kids pass."  The AP went on to talk about the outstanding work that will be done in the department.  Kids who could barely read, write and do arithmetic a year ago would now be taking and passing college level classes.

On the side the AP was overheard talking to the principal about the vacation that would be taken with the huge bonus because of these scores.  Once the colleges realized how low functioning these kids really were, the AP would have a margarita in hand and a nice tan.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Top 60 Schools In NYC

Wednesday, the Daily News ran an article highlighting the 60 best high schools in NYC.  Read close and don't be too happy even if your school is mentioned, or even if it is in the top half.

Baruch College Campus Magnet is school number 19.  It boasts of a 99% graduation rate but only has a 47.1% college readiness index.  The school shows 96% of their students go on to post high school programs but there is no indication of what percent of this 96% actually succeed.  Francis Lewis High School just makes the cut off for the top half at number 30.  It boasts of an 86% graduation rate but only has 38.5% of their graduates college ready.  While 77% go on to some sort of post secondary education, you have to wonder how many spend years in remediation and how many others just never finish.  No one bothers with these stats.  Once the kids are out the door, the high schools are finished.

I taught high school for over 30 years.  The school I started in had a low graduation rate, but the students who graduated and went on the college succeeded.   They got a real education, passing when they deserved to pass and failing and repeating when they didn't.  The school offered alternative programs and no one got a free ride.  While many did not go on to college, they learned the importance of working for what they received.   Things are not the same now.  High school education has become a joke.  Kids pass because teachers are afraid to fail them.  There is credit recovery and after school programs where credits are given for showing up a few times.I've even heard of APs encouraging special education teachers to coach their students while taking exams and APs translating questions into native languages but actually doing a lot more than just translating.

I teach at a local community college.  Last night, during an exam,  boy from one of these schools came up to me and said, "Professor, I don't know how to do this problem.  Can you just give me the answer."  He wasn't kidding.  A former teacher from his school told me I shouldn't have been surprised.  That is what happened there.  Colleagues were talking about remedial classes where students don't do homework, don't buy books and sleep or text constantly in class.  These kids are what made the best high schools what they are.  These kids are not going to be successful.  The whole thing is a sham and our kids are the biggest losers.

If the Daily News and other media really care about investigative reporting, they should look closer into what  the statistics they posted actually mean.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Several years ago I proctored a PSAT exam.  Things were hectic.  We had a short time to set up the room and not much time to give out papers and instructions to the students.  I explained to the group they had to stop at the end of each section.  I told them they could not go on until I told them to.  One girl in the room did not listen.  Once, twice, three times I had to stop her.  Finally I called an administrator and she was removed.  It was only after the exam was over that I learned this poor child was only in the country a few weeks and spoke no English.  I felt horrible about the way I treated her but even worse about her being subjected to a grueling exam for hours.  The poor student was forced to look at page after page of what appeared to be nonsense.  I can only imagine her frustration and then the humuilation she felt being removed.

I believe it is prestigious for the school to have a large number students take this test and they might even get money for each child doing so.  How low we have become!  This is just a legal form of prostitution and these kids are being made into slaves, forced to do their master's bidding.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Photo Class

Photo class trip to the zoo.  Hands on learning is the best.  Here is my first attempt at a panorama.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Making Of A Successful Student

I covered a pre-calculus class in the college today.  You'd think students at this level would care about learning and some do.  I was shocked when several got up and walked out after attendance was taken.Crossing names off the list didn't stop several more from leaving even though they knew they were responsible for the chapter being taught.

About half the class stayed.  We had a wonderful lesson.  The students were attentive, asked questions and worked hard.  Several stopped by on their way out and thanked me for teaching them.  These are the kids that belong in college.  They will succeed.  They make teaching fun.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

The Wire-Season 4

We've been watching season 4 of The Wire, a season that deals with police work and problems in an inner city middle school in Baltimore.  It  amazes me how a television series gets what kids and teachers are going through and the people who make school policy don't.  The writers understand that good test scores don't mean kids are learning.  They understand you have to make kids like school first and to sometimes trick them into learning. They understand juking test scores is all test prep is doing.  They know removing a group of hardened, disruptive kids will help others succeed.  They know that first you must civilize and teach relevance before you can educate.  They also know that new books and computers sitting unused in a book room do nothing to enhance learning.

Of course the series in unrealistic.  A police officer turned math teacher might have the desire but not the skills to do all he has done in such a short time.  Not all teachers and school administrators are as dedicated as the teachers in this school although more are than the media leads us to believe and getting a major grant to have three adults working with ten students is probably not going to happen but the show is good.  It shows what is possible, not for all, but for some, given the right situation and support.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Another Death

I  didn't know her as well as I knew him but whenever we passed she always had some nice words to say.  She was bubbly and happy and so full of life.

Her mom was sad to say goodbye to a wonderful daughter but knew it was right.  She had no quality of life, or any life for that matter.  Life as a vegetable is no life at all.

I was going to skip the wake, but was glad I didn't.  Her mom was so proud.  She enjoyed hearing the words of praise everyone heaped on her departed child.  It cost me so little time and meant so much.

Two deaths from one school in one week, so sad.  Two people who spent a good part of their lives helping young people become productive adults.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Looking at the man you would see a very proper, very rigid person.  His huge heart and his love for his students was hidden from the outside world, but not from the ones who had the privilege of being in his class.

The first time I learned about his heart was when we were getting ready to enter report card grades.  He showed me grades of a girl and asked if I would pass her.  Just looking at the data I didn't think she should pass.   He looked again and decided to pass her, based on classwork.  I knew he was okay then.

I had the honor of sharing a room with him several terms.  I saw the care he put into each lesson.  I saw the special projects he had the students do to help them understand and I saw the special relationship he developed with them.  He even got into a major fight with his AP when it came to finding books for his students to use.  He never hesitated putting himself on the front to help them.

This man also loved a good ping pong game.  He stayed late to supervise student games, giving them tips and beating them when he could.  His only reward was the joy he got from being with them.

I really got to know this man when we both were assigned the job of scanning regents exams.  We had a long wait and spent an entire day together.  He taught me a bunch of Chinese proverbs, things he used to send our former AP to make a point.  We laughed and had fun but also got the job done as efficiently as possible.

I remember discussing with him how different people were when they came from foreign lands and how their expectations and behavior towards others was often a product of their early environment.  He told me he was now an American and adjusted to live and think like one.  He had no respect for those who came here and could not break loose.

We met one night in the college and I told him about how difficult my students found factoring.  He showed me a fool proof method I had never seen.   To this day I use it is one I use and my students love.

This wonderful man only got to enjoy one year of retirement before passing on.  Words can't express the sorrow in my heart knowing I will never get the benefit of his wisdom.

RIP.  If there is an afterlife, you will have a great one to reward you for all the good you did here on earth. You will be sorely missed.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Dilbert Explains

Dilbert explains why there are so many incompetent principals.  They were put in place by an incompetent education mayor who chose an even more incompetent chancellor.  And then these incompetent principals hired incompetent assistant principals, those people with no real experience in anything and they in turn hired teachers who had no idea how to teach.