Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Summer In NY

Wine tasting on the North Fork is a great way to spend a summer day.

More pictures here, on Facebook.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Principal Interview

The Official Dilbert Website featuring Scott Adams Dilbert strips, animations and more

 Credit recovery, boot camp, unqualified APs who hate kids--Principals who will do anything for the almight dollar.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Friday, July 26, 2013

How An AP Is Chosen

The Official Dilbert Website featuring Scott Adams Dilbert strips, animations and more

The AP had absolutely no experience in the subject she was put in charge of.  No one could figure out why she got the job, except of course Scott Adams.  She has no ethics.  She lies and cheats and throws both teachers and students to the wolves to improve her numbers and her standings. 

And then there is the AP who stands at meetings publicly berating and humiliating teachers.  He carefully removes failing students from the classes of those he likes and places them in the classes of those he does not like and then accuses them of being ineffective.  He constantly talks about those long retired in a demeaning manner.  He loves going on vacation and partying with the chosen few and has even been showing favoritism to one very pretty, very young new teacher.  His specialty is writing incoherent memos and going after those over 50.
Ethics and morality seem to be the only quality these people have and no wonder they are in charge.
Also included in this group should be politicians.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Special Education Audit Needed

How about an audit of a special education department to find out:

1.  How failing grades on Friday miraculously become passing grades on Monday.
2.  How students with 70 IQs manage to get regents diplomas
3.  What really goes on behind closed doors while regents exams are being proctored.
4.  To determine how a student who can't seem to handle 5 classes suddenly manages to pass all of them plus 5 credit recovery classes all at the same time.
5.  How those online assignments actually get completed.
6.  How AYP is mysteriously met after not being met for so many years.
7.  Why a person with little teaching experience and no special education experience is in charge.

Now, I am not saying any of this actually happened, but if it did, wouldn't an audit be in order?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013



When you teach in a big high school, your friends are usually determined by who you share a lunch period with.  Since lunch stretches over 5 periods there are many people you just never get a chance to know.

Now retirement is an entirely different situation.  Three of us started having lunch together over a year ago.  The three soon grew to five, the five to ten and before we knew it, there were twenty of us meeting, many had only said brief hellos in the halls of Packemin. (Everyone knows someone else to invite and all are welcome.)

I bring this up today as I just spent the most wonderful day with one of these people, a teacher who taught in my department but never knew well until we started lunching together.  My husband and I spent the day with her and her husband in their summer home in Hampton's.  This friendship was a long time in the making but will continue to grow.

I look forward to seeing what other relationships develop with my new found friends.

(Swan from the back yard)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Union Should Stick To Defending Teachers


When a person hires a lawyer, the lawyer does not decide whether the person is guilty or innocent.  The lawyer just defends that person to the best of her ability.  That is the job she is paid to do.  She might know in her heart the person has committed the crime, but guilt or innocence is the function of the court and the jury.  The same goes with the union. Members pay to be defended. The union should not decide who deserves representation and who does not. Randi must be getting big bucks from somewhere to sell out her members like this.  She should be impeached.

Monday, July 22, 2013

You Won't Die If You Get Wet or Why My Camera Is My Favorite Travel Companion


We only get to live once and I am not content to live my life in Queens or Long Island, playing cards and eating diner lunch day in and day out.  And, I know that isn't what some others want either, but there is always some excuse not to leave the comfort zone:
1.   It's too hot
2.   It's too cold
3.   It's too windy
4.   There is no breeze.
5.   It might rain.
6.   It is cloudy.
7.   It is sunny.
8.   My back hurts.
9.   My feet hurt.
10.  It's too early.
11.  It's too late.
12.  I can't get an egg whilte omlette for lunch.
13.  It's too far uptown.
14.  It's too far downtown.
15.  It costs too much.
etc, etc, etc

I can't understand why people would live in NYC or Great Neck or anywhere on Long Island and not experience all the city has to offer.  Money can't be a problem because there are tons of free things to do, you just have to know where to look.  I was recently asked how I knew so much about the city.  I wanted to say, use your computer for something other than shopping and you too can find out what is going on around you.  I wanted to say, get off your ass and get on a subway with your eyes open and you will find lots of wonders. I kept these thoughts to myself and said Time Out NY is a great source.

After last week's heat wave, I just had to get into the city today.  Sure, the weather said rain, but I packed an umbrella and my water proof camera bag and took off.  Sure I got wet, but I'm not made of silk.  No damage was done.  And, I found a great place for lunch during the worst part of the storm.
I was taking cover in the doorway of the Custom House, One Bowling Green, during one downpour. 
Today's free bees included The American Indian Museum and NYC Archives in the Custom House, Federal Hall, Stone Street--NYC's answer to European Cafes, The South Street Seaport, China Town and SOHO and lots of side streets in between.
 George Washington in front of Federal Hall
 Looking south from Wall St
 Stone St

(More pictures later)
My camera is my favorite travel buddy.  It doesn't care if I change my mind about where I want to go 3 times in 2 mintues.  It is never cranky when the weather changes.  It never nags for food or complains about tired feet.  And, it never tells me when it is time to go home. 
Circumstances are keeping me from an exotic summer vacation this year, but there are plenty of exotic things to do right here and I intend to do many of them.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

1993--When A High School Diploma Meant Something

I ran into Mary Lou at the doctor's office last week.  While I didn't recognize her, she knew me immediately and when she told me her name, I remembered her well.  I remembered the class she was in and the boy she was dating at the time.

My 1993 standards, Mary Lou was just an okay student.  She did well enough in most subjects, but math was a big struggle.  She successfully completed three years of math and I remember well the thrill we both felt when she passed the trig regents on her first try.  (She wasn't so lucky with the first two.)

Anyway, the reason I am bringing this up is that in 1993 kids were allowed to fail and repeat courses.  Because of this, Mary Lou was prepared to succeed as a student at Queens College and graduate in 4 years with a double major in business and psychology.

Mary Lou decided she really didn't like the business world and went back to school to become a sonogram technician.  She has a very good paying, secure job and loves what she does today.  I am proud of the fact that she remembered me and credited me with helping her become the success she is today.  I know that today's graduates won't have the experiences she had and will not be as successful as Mary Lou.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hot Hot Hot

I took a picture when the car thermometer showed 100.  I did it again at 101, 103, 104, 105, 108, 109 and 110.  Hell, we are in New York, not the deserts of Arizona or south Texas. 

The bitch inside me is laughing at the two friends who blew off our monthly retired teacher luncheon to go to a pool party.  These two whine in any weather that is not 70 degrees.  This is one time I am enjoying the pain of others.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Government Spending

I am a firm believer in recycling.  And, that is why I was so happy when I opened an envelop from the city this morning with lots and lots of stuff for my recycle can.  There was a cover letter, a piece of cardboard  and two awesome stickers to place on my recycle cans so I can easily see which can is for paper and which is for metal and plastic.  Anything that can be torn goes in the paper can but I am not so sure what to do with the left over part of the stickers since they don't tear easily.

In addition to this recycling material, the city really supported the US post office with this mailing.

Maybe the city is short on money for schools and libraries, but I'm glad it is filling the pockets of the government friend who owns the company responsible for printing and distributing this stuff.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Darryl was in my class a zillion years ago, way before I began my career at Packemin.  He was a special education student, one of the first to be main streamed (this was something new in the '80s.)

I remember his smile and how easy he was to cajole him into working.  Academics wasn't his strenght, but his charm made up for his academic deficiencies.   The thing I remember most about Darryl was the dirty green hoodie he wore day in and day out.  The hood was always pulled over his head.  My husband met Darryl at the San Gennaro street fair.  The hood took nothing away from the warm greeting and the handshake.  Darryl was a pussy cat who would never harm a fly.

Over the years, in the college ans well as high school, I have seen many students in hoodies.  My son loves hoodies.  Pat Robertson says criminals wear hoodies.  Well, good teens wear hoodies too. How do people  like this get an audience?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Van Buren Rally To Stop Co Located School

Slimeball Walcott, under the direction of the Evil Bloomberg is trying to get a charter school to co-locate at Martin Van Buren HS.  Van Buren has been a failing school for a long time, but a new principal and a promise from the DOE has been slowly turning the school around.  Yet, in spite of this, around June 16, Mark Weprin's office got wind of this new development which will help kill the school so he, and a few other local politicians got together to try to stop this.

Today,one of the hottest days of the summer a news conference was held in front of the school.  I always intend to show up at these rallies, but something always comes up (or I just get lazy) and never make them.  But, this was in the neighborhood, so I grabbed my camera and headed over. The politicians, community leaders and others spoke passionately.  NY1 covered the event as well as several local papers.

One thing that upset me was the misconception I heard from several of the neighborhood people.  They talked (rightly so) of the troubles Van Buren has had these last few years.  Many of the students are out of control and the trouble sometimes spills on to the street.  These people feel a charter school will solve these problems.  They don't understand that the difficult kids will still be in the building.  They also blamed the UFT for protecting "bad" teachers and for keeping the system from getting rid of them.  They saw no harm co locating schools did to the schools already in the building, denied any services were taken from kids not part of the charter school.

I was happy to hear Tony Avella blame the former principal for many of the schools problems and to even say the DOE may have kept her in place to destroy the school.  I was thrilled to here community activists talk about the problems and expenses of having multiple principals in the same building.
 (Notice the clock on the wall.  The vice borough president commented that it just started working.  He then said bringing in the co location would set time back.  It was a very profound sentence to end with.)

 Tony Avella

 Washington Sanchez--UFT

Celebrating 89 Years

My Dad

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Class Participation

...She was uncomfortable with what the professors called "participation," and did not see why it should be part of the final grade; it merely made students talk and talk, class time wasted on obvious words, hollow words, sometimes meaningless words.  It had to be Americans were taught, from elementary school, to say something in class, no matter what.
The above paragraph comes from Americanah, by Chimanda Ngozi Adichi.  This was written as an observation by Ifemelu begins her university education in the United States.  I thought it particularly relevant to today's standards which judge a teacher unsatisfactory when not every student in class has spoken during the lesson.

BTW--it is a wonderful book, gives a good understanding of what immigrants must go through in their adopted countries and why they do so.  It is heart wrenching to read about college graduates cleaning toilets, breathing poisonous air, being cheated and putting up with it all in hopes of a better life in the future.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Attention UFT Retirees

The fall 2013 Si Beagle catalog is out.  If you haven't gotten your paper yet, don't worry.  Go to the site, pick the courses and trips you are interested in and print the coupon.

I've been checking every day this week and of course, the only time I didn't check was the day it came out.  Since I was in the area, I mailed mine from the main post office on 33rd and 8th.  Hopefully I will get all I asked for.

As an added bonus, I saw the Post Office Museum inside, small but interesting.  NYC is full of such wonderful free things to see and do.  Pictures here, on Facebook.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Value Of Fiction

When I was in high school I thought English teachers scoured library shelves to find the worst possible books to assign.  The only thing I remember enjoying back then was Cantebury Tales.  And, it wasn't that my teachers weren't engaging and talented, because they were great.  But, memorizing passages from Shakespeare or reading Ethan Frome was just not for me.

As a teacher, I remember being thrilled to see my students walking around with books I had recently read and enjoyed.  I was so happy to see them reading contemporary literature and I enjoyed discussing these books with them and getting their recommendations for books I had not yet read.  I loved seeing them read, on their own, books by authors of required reading.  I loved seeing reading being back in vogue by many students, not just honor students.  I even enjoyed seeing them read classics and, after a glowing recommendation, went out and got copies of The Great Gatsby and To Kill A Mockingbird, two books around for years that I never read.

Fiction brings made up stories to life.  I have always loved historical fiction and now, with my I-pad or Nook, I fact check and explore things I have read.  I google places I have never been.  Reading fiction has widened my world in a way reading non fiction (books I usually don't read) never could.

I was saddened to see fiction, except for a small splattering of books, will no longer be part of the ELA curriculum.  Removing them deprives students of a meaningful learning experience.  This common core curriculum was thought of by people with no common sense.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

End Of Career

Judy began her teaching career at the ripe old age of 51.  She worked in private industry for 25 years and a change in management meant it was either unemployment or a new career.  She always loved children so she went back to school, took some education courses and began teaching second grade.  For 10 years she loved her job and the kids loved her.  But something snapped in year 11.  She realized she no longer liked the kids and they didn't like her.  She didn't know if it was the kids, the new demands being put on her by the administration, or just the drain of doing the same thing day in or day out, so she handed in her papers and is now happily retired.

I'm happy for Judy.  She is now able to sleep at night without the worry of Danielson Framework and without worry about all the computer stuff she is not familiar with or with how she would be able to input data without a computer in her room (strange that all the young teachers had computers.)  She doesn't have to worry about her reports that lack the current buzz words the newbies use all the time.

I am even more happy for the students who would have been in Judy's class.  They won't have an experienced teacher, but hopefully they will have one who loves them and wants them to do well.  She knew she was not doing them any good, and was perhaps doing harm, something she did not want to do.

Liking students might be the most important part of teaching.  Too bad there is no way to evaluate what goes on in the heart.

(Picture is Ferris wheel at carnival in Padavan Field--no relation to the post.  I just liked how it came out.)

Monday, July 08, 2013

Retirees Not The Problem

My friend, NYC Ed, thinks retirees should not be allowed to vote in UFT elections.  He's right.  Most retirees have no idea what is going on in schools today and they really have no idea as to how much has changed since they left the system.  But, the problem with the union is not retirees, it is lack of interest and involvement of the rank and file.

I remember a heated UFT election for chapter chair several years ago.  I had strong leanings toward one candidate but felt everyone should vote, and vote knowingly, even if they shared my choice or not.  The union leader is the one who fights for our rights and that person should be the one chosen by the majority.  I remember walking into my department office and asking the room full of young teachers if they voted.  What I heard was:  "Voted?"  "What are we voting for?"  "Does it really matter who gets elected?"  "Nothing changes anyway."  I remember feeling disgusted with the lot and felt they deserved whoever they got.

Several teachers were asked to represent their departments on the UFT's executive board.  Many refused.  There wasn't enough in it for them to make it worth their time.  Others were afraid of retribution by administration if they said something out of line.  They hoped to spend their careers as invisible members of the staff.  Some, on the board, made lots of noise at meetings but never stood up outside of them, always waiting for someone else to do it for them.

Blaming retirees for the state of the UFT is like blaming teachers for all the ills of education today.  Yes, we should not vote but if the people affected stood up, we would be outnumbered.  Just look at how many of us don't vote at all.  And, if the UFT really pushed the plight of teachers today, more retirees would vote with those still on the front line.

As for me, I am taking courses and enjoying my days.  Here are some pics of Friday's High Line walk with a bunch of fellow retirees (and one who is just enjoying her summer.)  Notice the smile on every one's face.  More pictures here, on Facebook.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Danielson Framework For Teaching

The Official Dilbert Website featuring Scott Adams Dilbert strips, animations and more

Being retired, I had zero interest in learning anything about the Danielson Framework.  To me, it is just another BS system probably put together by and edu-idiot who has absolutely no idea what goes on in a classroom.  But, when it took up a full page in last month's UFT paper, I gave it a look.

From what I can see, this framework is no different than anything good teachers have been doing for years.  Only now, it has a fancy name and someone has gotten a lot of notoriety and money.

For this post, I will focus on Domain 1.

Domain 1: Planning and Preparation

1a Demonstrating Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy

1b Demonstrating Knowledge of Students

1c Setting Instructional Outcomes

1d Demonstrating Knowledge of Resources

1e Desingning Coherent Instruction

1f  Designing Student Assessments

If teachers are expected to excel at all of the above, their supervisors should be masters at this stuff as well.  After all, they are in place to make sure students are getting the best education possible.  Supervisors with little to know experience and expertise in the area they are in charge of cannot do any of the above.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Loser--You Had 3 Failures In Your Class

The department supervisor loved Ms. K.  She was young and pretty and jumped when he said jump.  She revered him and thought of him as a father.  When Ms. K went to the supervisor and asked for advice on how to handle some failing students, he said, "Don't worry.  I will take them out of your class and give them to Mrs. R.  And, to keep classes balanced, I will take some of Mrs. R's best students to replace them.  Ms. K was so grateful, she kissed his feet and promised him extra ass wiping whenever his bowel movements were irregular.

Mrs. R never kissed his feet or wiped his behind, but she was a good teacher.  When regents were graded, Mrs. R had 30 out of 34 students pass.  Many of those passing had never passed this class in the past so she was very proud of herself.  Her supervisor was not pleased.  "Mrs. R, why is it that every other teacher only has 1 or 0 failures.  You are the worst teacher in the department.  I wish you would retire."

Mrs. R learned that arguing with him was futile.  She just turned her back and walked away with her head held high.  The supervisor was an idiot.  Everyone in the school held the same opinion. 

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Silly Sign

It would have been so much easier to write open Daily 11 AM

More City Island pictures here, on Facebook.

Hope everyone had a good and safe 4th of July

Monday, July 01, 2013

Unprepared Graduates


Of all the former students I spoke to, only one will not need to take remedial math in college.  So much for college readiness.  A meeting at a local college with math APs fell on deaf ears as the college tried to stress how unprepared incoming freshmen were to succeed.

My former AP boasts about regents statistics.  He gloats over the teachers that have close to 100% passing rates.  He should be looking at remedial math statistics.  But he won't.  No one wants to admit to being a failure.