Tuesday, April 22, 2014

1964 World's fair 50th Anniversary

A unique opportunity to visit the NYS Pavillion from the 1964 World's Fair was available today, the 50th anniversary.  I remember going every week, on the Q44 bus from West Farms with my cousin.  World certainly has changed as I would never have allowed my young children to make that trip.

The lines were huge and we decided to skip it when we met friends who got us tickets.  It was definitely fun to see.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Teacher Evaluations For Promotion

The only place I ever read the Post is in a bar.  A beer makes is the only thing that makes it readable.  Last week it had an editorial berating Farina's back to teacher instead of test evaluations for promotion.  Here are a few answers to that editorial.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Woman Of Valor

Six months ago my closest friend, the friend I call sister, was diagnosed with lung cancer.  Instead of getting into bed and crying she attacked the disease with all her might.  Thinking the chemo would cause her hair to fall out, she found a place that makes wigs for children, cut off her beautiful locks and sent them away.  She spent 6 weeks getting radiation and chemo treatments and her cute short hair grew longer.

Unfortunately the treatment did not work but she did not give up.  She found a new doctor and is bravely going under new treatment and starting to feel good.  Now, as she slowly looses her hair, she smiles as she dons a wig or a cap to keep her head warm.

Today I shaved the remaining hair off her head so she can adjust the wig to make it fit better.  She smiled as we checked the mirror for missed hairs and joked about the money she could now save on shampoo.  She even calls herself Kojak now.

My friend is a wonderful person.  I pray every day for her recovery and pray for the strength of face obstacles with the strength and courage she is facing hers.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Gotcha Mentality Not Good For Students Or Teachers

Teachers can be observed any day of the week.  But, when an AP chooses to observe a teacher the day before a long vacation something is not right.  Oh the AP might claim she wants to make sure teaching is going on all the time but, if the AP ever bothered to leave her office, she would know the teachers that work and those that don't.  Besides, a walk through the hall with a glance through a window should be enough to let a competent administrator know what is going on.

The AP who is doing this has an agenda and that agenda is "gotcha".  Too bad the gotcha hasn't worked very often because the teachers do what they are supposed to do, TEACH until the very last bell of the day rings.

I never understood this gotcha mentality.  Happy teachers are better teachers.  Why would an AP who cares about his charges do this  Why would a Principal who wants to run a good school condone such actions?  Is this because the AP and the Principal care more about making the life of the teacher uncomfortable than they care about the welfare of the students they are in charge of?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Empty Chairs

As I get ready for tonight's seder, I think about all the people the empty seats.

My grandpa who used to check every label to make sure things were kosher.
My grandma who made the world's best potato latkas and was never surprised they were all gone before we sat down to eat.
My father-in-law who didn't like to speak to anyone.
My mother-in-law who love the turkey butt and was always going out to smoke.
My sister-in-law who came in like a tornado and taught my kids how to fling food across the table.
My brother-in-law (he had a stroke and is in rehab) who loved being religious once a year.
My niece who has to work and her husband who doesn't want to come without her.

But mostly I miss my mom and my dad.  The first year without my mom was awful.  She loved the holiday. I still see her sitting at table, glasses on, reading from the Haggadah.  This is the first year without my dad.  I somehow knew last year would be his last.  I still prepared his favorite foods, meatballs, matzhoh balls, latkas from a mix and have the ketchup bottle ready to put on the table.

Two of the empty chairs are being filled by people very special to us, my daughter's special guy and my son's fiance.  But, these two have been around for years.  Still, their presence will make the holiday a little less sad.  Many of our loved ones are gone but our family is growing.

Happy Passover to all who celebrate and an early Happy Easter to others.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Biting The Hand That Feeds Her

He found the cutest, sweetest little dog in the pound.  Although she was dirty and untrained, he took her home.  He cleaned her up.  He set her up in the nicest surroundings anyone canine could ever want.  He spent hours and hours trying to train her to pee on the wee wee pads and to poop outside.  Nothing worked.    She crapped all over the place.  She bit him whenever he went near her.  Still, he never gave up on her.

She is still mean.  And now she bites him whenever he goes near her.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Watching TV and Heard This

I have a little chihuahua.

Small body, big head.

Falls a lot.

(From Friday night's Blue Bloods.)

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Why I Still Write

I'm retired and many say I should enjoy my retirement and leave the schools alone.  Well, I am enjoying my retirement but I haven't forgotten those still working and as long as I can sit at this computer I never will forget them.  I want to be a voice of those still in the trenches, those unable, unwilling or afraid to speak for themselves.  If you happen to be an administrator, or a politician, or anyone else who is a pretty lame excuse for a human being you might want to think about what you are actually doing.  You see, my stories cover schools throughout the city, throughout the country and even schools as far away as England and France.  Chihuahuas are in charge everywhere and it is not right.

My friend from the south just wrote to me about evaluations in her school.  It seems almost every senior teacher is being told their lessons need developing while those straight out of college are always told they are highly effective.  The senior teachers are the ones that kept this school running and succeeding for years.  (The school is one of the top schools in the state.)  Now, they are considered incompetent, incapable of writing a lesson.  To me, this is insane.  To make matters worse, the math and English lessons are being graded by an assistant principal licensed in a totally different subject, an assistant principal who failed licensing exams in his subject and in supervision numerous times.

If you are one of those administrators who cringe when you read this blog, good.  Hopefully, enough people will see you for what you really are and do something.  You are hurting teachers and you are hurting children because you are putting the wrong people in the classroom with them.

(The above picture is from a recent trip to Sarasota, Florida.  In case you are wondering, I have been doing quite a bit of traveling, sight seeing in the city, visiting museums and hanging out with friends.  I will always leave time to write about your incompetence.)

Wednesday, April 02, 2014


I've covered classes and stood behind countless teachers who photocopy text book questions and handouts that parallel the wonderful text used in the college because the kids don't buy the books.  I am not one of those.  I understand the books are very expensive, but kids have options.  The texts are available for use in the lab and the library.  The library even lets them copy up to 300 pages free.  They all have phones that could take pictures of problems.  I refuse to baby them.

These college students come in expecting to be spoon fed like they were in high school.  They want everything done for them and want to do nothing for themselves. What are we teaching them if we don't teach them to be responsible adults?  Maybe I am wrong and these other teachers are right.  Maybe I am just getting too old and sinister to be teaching anymore.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014


What does the little doggie do locked in the dog house all day?  There is lots of barking and yapping at anyone who dares to knock on the door.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Truth In Fiction

Reading about DeBlasio, Avella and others change of heart concerning charter schools makes me wonder how much of House of Cards, the fictionalized Netflix series about evil, corrupt politicians is actually true.

Something big must be going on that the public is not being made aware of, something sinister.

Friday, March 28, 2014


The best way to evaluate a teacher is to ask their students, the ones who spend multiple hours with them weekly.  They have been with this person on good days and bad days.  They sat through wonderful lessons and lessons that bombed.  They know which teachers get a point across, or do whatever is necessary to get that point across a second or third or tenth time and know which teachers are impossible to learn from.  Students know these things.  Standardized tests don't.  APs, even those who have been at their jobs for more than 5 minutes often miss the point too and those not even trained in the subject they are supervising are clueless.

I just opened an envelope with 27 forms like the one posted above.  This time they happened to be all good, but they aren't always as complimentary.  Still, mix in a few not so nice ones and anyone can see the type of teacher I am.  And yes, there were students in this group who were not passing so the evaluations had nothing to do with ease of grading.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ah Chihuahau

Does the little Chihuahau have the big dog on a leash? 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Common Core

I will not defend Common Core.  I know little to nothing about what it entails.  What I do know is that kids today are not getting a real education.

Boo hoo to the failing scores.  This country needs a wake up call.  We have been failing our kids for years.  There might be problems with Common Core but kids not passing are not the problem.

I used to sit with my calculus students after the AP exam and help the foreign born ones with English assignments.  All had passed the regents.  All had passed out of ESL classes.  None were able to write coherent paragraphs.  Reading their work was painful.  All had to take ESL classes in college and couldn't understand why since they had done so well in high school.

Common core might be awful, but passing students who know nothing is probably worse.  There has got to be a better way.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

You Would Think

You would think a Principal with a strong education background, one with years of experience both teaching and in supervision, would care about keeping the quality of education up.  You would think that a man or woman like this would want people under them who were quality teachers and who recognize quality teachers.  You would think a Principal like this would not empower an assistant who had no clue when it comes to the subject that assistant is in charge of.  You would think the Principal would stop the assistant from pushing experienced, valued teachers out the door while rewarding and commending newbies.

You would think all this if you have not been around NYC schools lately, but those who have been there know that the Principal cares about statistics and nothing else.  Empowering an assistant who knows nothing does not matter as long as that assistant is willing to do anything and everything to keep the statistics up.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Pleasure In Suffering

I got a perverse pleasure watching Billy take tonight's exam.

He found the exam difficult because he never bothered to do the review problems that were assigned.  He didn't even know how to use his calculator although that was gone over many times.  I enjoyed seeing his face turn red as he had no idea how to fix his graphing window and get out of his error message.

Billy is bright.  He wants A's.  Hopefully this test was a wake up call and he will realize he is not in high school anymore.

Friday, March 14, 2014

I Don't Blame The Kids

Billy was obnoxious Tuesday evening.  I was taking questions from the set of review problems I gave   the class the previous week to help them prepare for an upcoming exam.  Several students asked me to do all the problems.  I refused.  So many had not even looked at the study guide.  A few expected to be retaught the entire chapter. One student even had the nerve to tell me he wasn't getting his money worth for the course he paid for.

I don't blame these kids.  The worst offender, the boy who wasn't getting what he paid for, is a recent high school graduate.  He attended a fairly good high school in Queens.  Being bright, he was able to get by there with no work.  Everyone had to pass to keep the schools stats up so he grew up expecting to do nothing to achieve decent grades.  He doesn't understand why this is not happening in college.  He gets angry when I won't assign take home tests and when test answers cannot be found by plugging numbers in a calculator.  He has a brain but it hadn't been used.  Thinking is a skill he did not develop in high school.

I don't blame the students.  A Principal once told me we had to give diplomas to everyone as the diploma was the key to their futures.  If he saw some of my students he would change his tune.  He would see the diploma we give today is worse than no diploma at all.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Crazy: If I Did Not See It, I Would Not Believe It

Charles missed three classes, came back and scored 32 on his first exam.

He then missed 4 more classes.

I just opened an e-mail him with a medical note attached.  Unfortunately, the medical note is for his cousin and makes no mention of him.

I told him to drop the class.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Vacation Pics

Retirement is good.  We spent last weekend in Sarasota with another retired math teacher and her husband. 

Above are some photos of the beautiful wild life.