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.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

No Wonder They Fail

Student 1 "had" to go to leave the country to attend his aunt's wedding. He "had" to be gone for two weeks. He knew he was missing an exam.  He did not bring his book along or even think about school the time he was gone.  He's back now, lost.

Student 2 left the country to go to his grandfather's funeral.  He was gone a week and a half and missed an exam.  He didn't bring the text along and is now back and lost.

Is it me, or is it them?  The kids I know outside of this college did not miss school for anything.  My son missed his aunt's wedding because he had a three hour class.  A friend's daughter missed her grandmother's funeral because of a 5-hour grad class.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Minimal Punishment

Once again she lied and the man protected her.  She did wrong, the evidence was there.  There were pictures of what she had done.  He probably slapped her tush and she most definitely cried.  There was no lasting pain, nothing to stop her from doing it again.

Friday, February 28, 2014

When Statistics Are All That Count

Mrs. Obsessed was worried about Nat.  The regents exam was just a few days away and she did not feel he was ready.  She asked him to stay late for extra help.  Mrs. Obsessed could not give Nat the undivided attention he needed so she asked Mrs. Kind to help.  Mrs. Kind sat with Nat and showed him different methods, explains fully as she went along.  Mrs. Obsessed overheard and said "don't bother explaining, just give him steps.  Nat is incapable of understanding.  He needs to learn by rote."  Mrs. Obsessed students passed the regents, her results were excellent.  Her statistics failed to show how little they actually knew.

Mrs. Obsessed is now a high school principal.  I fear for all the students in her charge she thinks are incapable of understanding and who are being pushed through without really being educated.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Disposing Of Obsolete Materials

I just read an interesting article containing rules and regulations for disposing of obsolete DOE equipment and books.

Quick summary:

1.  Supervisor must certify that the material is obsolete and can no longer be used.
2.  All equipment, including books, must be inventoried.
3.  All DOE markings must be removed from books and equipment.
4.  Efforts must be made to get rid of the material in a way that is advantageous financially.  A minimum of three advertisements must be placed and the supervisor is responsible for responding to inquiries.

You can read the whole article here.  I am sure the feet pushing the cart to the dumpster belong to custodians.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Evil Grin

The AP was grinning from ear to ear.  Finally, the senior teachers in her department, the ones who taught her the ropes and covered her ass were gone.  She no longer needed, or wanted their advice.  She made them so miserable that those eligible for retirement ran.  (Many had planned on being in the classes for quite a few years longer.)  She knew they had morals and scruples, things that would interfere with her willingness to do anything and everything to look good.  She knew they would not permit her to keep abusing the children she was in charge of.

The department was now full of newbies.  True, many of these youngsters did not know the first thing about teaching but they knew how to bow and scrape.  They knew how to follow her every command.  She knows nothing but these newbies know even less.  She deposed her enemies and that was all that mattered.

(She was also confident that her new boss would protect her at all costs.)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

What Happens In A Certain NYC HS on Snow Days

E-mail from a teacher.  I am so glad to be away from this nonsense/

The APs  and Principal walked around on Thursday during the snow storm to see who was teaching.  Rumor is from now on teachers will formally be observed since they are entitled to at least 6 pop ins as part of the new evaluation system.  Then you ask why I am going.  It pays to fight the snow, parking and then be harrassed.  Also I wonder if a teacher has a coverage if that teacher can be observed, probably.

Instruction on a snow day
28Q505 | 2/13/2014 1:08:53 PM
On a snow stricken day with a little over 800 students in the building, what should be happening in the classroom?  Choose the best possible answer.
_____       a. One on one time can be utilized with students that are still struggling with skill deficits.
_____       b. Combining classes to promote data-driven tutoring across disciplines so that students can take advantage of the brain bank of one room.
_____       c. "Office Hours" type discussions with students about their goals, College aspirations, scholarship writing and or vocabulary words and key concepts found in exams like the S.A.T and A.C.T
_____       d. All of the above
Thank you for your efforts in making sure that whether there are two students or 34 students that instruction is still being capitalized. 
Respectfully submitted,
Instructional Core Team 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Chihuahuas Rampage in Arizona

 Frank Elaridi

Chihuahuas are on the loose in an Arizona neighborhood and flooding animal control offices with reports of the roaming strays.
The short-legged dogs have infested Maryvale, a section of Phoenix.
GTY chihuahuas jef 140217 16x9 608 Chihuahuas Rampage in Arizona
Residents of Maryvale in Phoenix, Ariz. are worried about chihuahuas that are on the loose. Getty Images
Animal control are having a rough time unleashing officers to patrol the area due to the unusually high number of calls, sometimes a dozen at one time.
“We compared the number of calls we got in 2013 from that area to similar areas in town and the calls from Maryvale were three times higher than surrounding areas,” said Melissa Gable with Maricopa County Animal Care and Control.  ”Part of it is these animals aren’t spayed or neutered, so they’re out looking for a mate and are having babies, which also contributes to the problem.”
Chihuahuas are one of the most common breeds found in animal shelters, according to animal control.
“If at all possible, if you see a stray, if you can safely contain him in your yard and then call us, that makes a big difference. Because people are calling saying, ‘hey I see a stray’ by the time we get there, it’s gone, it slips under the fence, and we can’t find it. ” Gable said. “Do that, because it’s helping us come out and get the dogs.”
Maricopa Animal Care and Control will spay and neuter dogs at no charge. They also plan to visit Maryvale in the summer to provide the service for residents.

A former colleague who knows how much I love chihuahuas sent me this article.  Too bad we can't call animal control on the ones running around here.  They certainly can use spaying and neutering.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


I had to laugh.  A friend told me his AP thinks she is the Chihuahua and all the Chihuahua posts written are about her.  And, the AP was laughing.  Imagine, doing the things the Chihuahua does and being proud to be that dog.

Newsflash:  The Chihuahua is not one person, she is many people.  She is the incompetent AP, she is the evil Principal and she is the squeaky little manager of a bar I like to attend.  She represents teachers I have had, teachers my children have had and teachers I have worked with.  She is the nasty store clerk, the miserable cashier and the bus driver who waves as he leaves people in the street waiting.

Wonder how many others will see themselves in the Chihuahua and go away laughing.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Why I Was So Pissed

It wasn't that he opened schools.  I am used to NYC never getting a snow day.

It wasn't that I would have had to take a sick day if I did not go in.  I always felt fortunate to have those to use.

It wouldn't have been for my own kids.  I let them stay home, attendance be damned, when the weather was that bad.

It was the arrogance that pissed me off.  De Blasio and Farina could have said NYC schools stayed open because they felt that was best.  Period.  They didn't have to talk about how wonderful the city was running when, in reality, it wasn't.  Trains and buses were running late and canceled in many places.  Cars were skidding and getting stuck.  Sidewalks were slippery.  It was not a day to be out.  They heard the same weather forecast we all did and chose to ignore it.  They should have said they were in charge, they made a decision and everyone had to accept.  I wouldn't have liked the words but they would have been better than the lines they fed us.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Perfect Attendance Award

I remember Angela coming to school with 103 degree fever.  Her mom insisted she come and truthfully, she wanted to be there too.  She wanted to keep her perfect attendance and get a certificate at graduation.

I wonder how many kids braved the elements this morning, risked getting hit by skidding cars, falling on ice and waiting hours for buses just for that perfect attendance award?

Schools should have been closed today.  I have no sympathy for teachers who wouldn't use a sick day, but I have lots for the kids who went in, not willing to give up that perfect attendance or afraid a day out will hurt their grades.  I know some parents depend on the schools to babysit while they work, but schools are not babysitters.  Perhaps the city needs to set up a babysitting alternative for school days.

My daughter reminded me that there were no snow days when she was growing up.  It was wrong then.  That doesn't make it right now.  I am one who always took public transportation and went it.  But even I would have stayed under the covers this morning.

De Blasio-A Bloomberg Clone?

De Blasio was standing at the podium talking about the state of emergency and telling everyone who did not have to go out to stay home.  After much BS he got to schools.  From what I gathered, in his mind, schools are day care centers for people who need safe places for their children while they work.

CBS news was great.  While he rambled on about how the city was up and operating fine, they kept showing stalled trucks, cars sliding all over the place, parents struggling to get to school and a jackknifed bus on Queens Blvd.

The arrogance he and Farina showed was no better than the arrogance Bloomberg and Walcott showed during their reign of abuse.  If this is any indication of what the next four years will be like, the city is still in trouble.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Thank You Sir

To the village pillager:

Thank you for only destroying 3/4 of my crops and letting me give the other 1/4 to the poor.

Thank you for only ripping off 3 of my limbs and for allowing me to use the one that is still attached..

Thank you for only raping 75% of my daughters and for leaving the other 25% pure.

Hope this is the thank you requested.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Teachers Uniting To Make A Difference

The teachers were fed up with their young, incompetent AP.  She was not well versed in her subject, she often refused to make decisions, and when she did, they were bad ones.  She never took responsibility for them.  Yet, she had no problem taking credit for the accomplishments of others and she was the queen of barking orders and glaring.  These teachers decided to take matters into their own hands.

The teachers began meeting after school hours in undisclosed locations.  (They were afraid of repercussions before they were ready to present.)  They knew alone they could do nothing but there was power in numbers.  They also knew the rest of the administration would do nothing to help them.  Administrators stick together and defend their own no matter what misdeeds.  They could toss expensive books, promote cheating, harass teachers without reason and it was okay.  Generals always defend their second in command.

The teachers came up with a game plan.  They secretly photographed things going on in the school.  They started sending these pictures, along with detailed letters to local politicians, newspapers and even bloggers.   Since efforts in the building accomplished nothing, they decided to take their fight outside.

I wish them well.  The teachers want to get back to the business of educating students.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

A Celebration Of Life

Many years ago I was asked to speak at the funeral of a para I had worked with.  I loved this woman, respected her and valued the help she gave me during my first years at Packemin.  (I was teaching special education, something I had very little experience with.). I was nervous but  I never thought about refusing.  This was my first experience  in a Black church and at a Baptist service.  I was the only white person.  I will be eternally grateful to my two friends who stayed at my side and encouraged me not to run for the door.  My speech went over well and was appreciated by the family, friends and parishioners.

I thought about that service today as we gathered to pay our final respects to my sister-in-law, a woman who died too young, only 66 years on this earth.  The Baptist funeral was a celebration of life.  People marched in singing, dressed in white.  It was a magnificent tribute to a woman of virtue.  Today the funeral officiant began by saying we were not brought there by a death, but by a life.  We were there to celebrate my sister-in-law's life.  Everyone who knew my sister-in-law knew she didn't operate like anyone else.  She was funny and crude and oh so smart .  Her tongue was quick and the words it spoke were often not very nice.  But, her words masked her true self and her deeds were not reflected by what she said.  Many people spoke.  We reminisced and we laughed.  No one had ever seen a service quite like the one we had today.  We think she would have really enjoyed it and would have been sitting on the side lines laughing and making fun of everyone,  The officiant said she had never been to a service like this one and I am willing to bet she will never be at one like it again.  She was sorry she never got to meet this funny, smart, caring woman.

My sister-in-law died too young but she died the way she lived, on her own terms.  She got up to get something, collapsed at home, called her daughter and then died.  She touched many lives.  She will be missed.

Her hands were hiding her multiple chins (something she always joked about and did) and her fingers are saying her favorite expression.  I will leave that to your imagination.

Friday, February 07, 2014

50 Years Ago

(sorry, I did not have my good camera)

 Paul's guitar
 George's guitar
 John's guitar

Check out the prices in 1964

 I took a drum lesson from Ringo on these drums--really cool
 John's glasses