SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: Non-Answers From Gideon Stein The Answer Man

Monday, March 12, 2012

Non-Answers From Gideon Stein The Answer Man

I met someone online a week or so ago. My Jewish parents would have been proud. He is a very wealthy man that fights for the rights of little boys and girls of color. Who is this man? He is Gideon Stein, board member of Success Charter Whatevers (click to see Gideon listed under "Our Leaders") and el presidente de Future Is Now Schools. Thanks to his largesse the poverty stricken have a friend.

I met, or rather a started a tweet relationship with Gideon through mutual friend The Frustrated Teacher. Both TFT and myself have fun with Gideon as he continuously, yet thoughtfully, gets caught in both our direct and quite pointed questions put to him. But, and this happens quite a bit, when pressed, when truly made to stick up for what he claims, Gideon seems to do what King Arthur's men did in Monty Python's The Holy Grail.

Now what endears me most about Gideon is how he, from the UWS gilded ivory tower in which he lords down upon those to 125th St, has all the answers. Or does he?

This past Friday, Gideon guested on TFT's radio show. I listened with bemusement as Gideon went through the great teachers, poverty is no excuse, blah, blah, blah, and thought of something. Yes, all children can learn, but can all children excel? And this is what I asked Gideon the following day through a little differently worded.

Gideon replied;
assuming a basic level of cognitive ability, then yes, virtually all students can perform at high levels.
Now of course not only myself, but 99.99% of teachers truly want what is best for their students. All 99.99% do what they can, want to, and wish to have each of their students reach their full potential. But, can all students excel? It is just statistically impossible and a quite broad statement. But again, excel has not been defined. What is a high level? I was just as smart, if not smarter than those I graduated high school with that got the 1500 on their SAT's, went to the Ivy League schools, etc... I didn't "excel."However, I believe that what Gideon means is that all will do well on standardized tests if students are continuously taught to the test which will keep that Title I money flowing into the coffers.

Yet I continued in the garbleness. I asked Gideon;
So all pitchers can pitch like Koufax, singers can all be Pavorotti, all drummers can drum like Neil Peart?
Gideon's answer was awesome,
  you're being silly. all kids should be able to perform at high levels, go on to college or good career.
I fail to see the silliness. Using Gideon's logic, a child should be able to attain these goals. In fact all three of the above mentioned did not graduate college. But I digress.

My 10 1/2 year old son plays travel baseball. He trains year round. Should he be able to perform at high level of baseball and go on to play at the very least minor league baseball or get a scholarship to a Division 1 college? If this does not happen, do I blame the coaches and/or training he has had throughout the years, myself, he DNA?

Gideon went on to explain  that all will not get into Harvard (still missing my point) but rather will be able to get into college (just like all those remedial students thanks to Uncle Mike) and have a career. Now one must wonder does he mean career like when I was in my 20's and my short, Jewish great aunt would chide me time and time again to go to trade school so I can learn a good trade? Or does perhaps Gideon mean a career in which one's collar is blue and which his type of done everything to be rid of good blue collar jobs in this country.

I had one last question for Gideon. I was not college ready at 18 when I graduated high school. Why, I asked Gideon who seemed to have all the answers wasn't I college ready? Gideon, much to my surprise did not have the answer. He couldn't even surmise or speculate. Even Raegen Miller, a guest I had on my show with Leonie Haimson back in May at least speculated that if I had a teacher who had graduated from the top of their class I would have done better in high school.

What does college ready mean? What does it mean to excel? I was far from college ready when I graduated high school. I got an 800 on my PSAT's taken in my junior year. I know for a fact that nothing that my school would have done would have made me a better student in high school, nor prepped me to go to college.

I graduated in from high school in 1982, between that year and 1991 I played musical colleges, as well as musical majors. Once school I went to was where my girlfriend at the time went. I got serious in 1991 at the age of 27. I graduated from a run of the mill SUNY school in which I felt comfortable at. Is someone who had graduated Harvard smarter than me, or more capable? I barely cracked a book the last two years before I graduated and got nothing but A's and B+'s. Is that how one can be college ready?

Maybe it was my mother when I was 4 years old and taken to the speech therapist who told my mother that I would never be able to read at grade level. God damn, she did not like nor accept that answer. She, made me read and read and read.

This is why I am what I am with this blog and my many opinions. I identify with our students that we all see everyday. The students who each and every day in school is a struggle. I see how the system is day in and day out screwing them royally. Guess what? I don't think, I KNOW what needs to be done to help these kids. I KNOW what they don't want. I have lived it all to well.

I know what it was like to know the subject matter like the back of my hand but when confronted with a test froze, became terrified, acted out, projected, etc... We, not we but rather THEY, the deformers, those that live above it and have not experienced education are the ones that are hurting these children each and every day that they are allowed to bogart there way, their thoughts, their so called "birthrights" into our students.

They must and need to be stopped before any further damage is done.

Gideon, please tell me, why wasn't I ready for college?


Angie Villa said...

What arrogance! Mr. Gideon was never a teacher, how would he know anything, and how could he run a school system? The "college ready" initiative is ridiculous. College is not for all, and young children are not ready to be thinking about college. Last year in 4th grade (public school) my son went on a field trip to a local college, not to see a play for children, but to be exposed to campus life. And what did he get out of it? Well, he told me got to see boys and girls kissing, and lots of kids on lap tops. That was cool. By promoting this nonsense, geniuses like Gideon can conveniently forget about the immediate needs of poor children, since the focus is being put on their future. My bullshit meter goes off the charts when I hear about these dream academy charter schools.

Anonymous said...

here's a public school where 100% of students are eligible for free lunch and most are ESL - yet excel. Somebody tell me why they can do this and the vast majority of public schools don't.
bill grundfest

Pete Zucker said...

I don;t know Bill, why don;t you tell us. DO YOU have any idea what the curriculum is? I don't, nor does the reader of this article.

How many kids come from two parent homes? How many free vs. reduced price lunches? What are the class sizes?

I suggest you go see your buddy Krinsky and do some deviant stuff with one another.

Anonymous said...

Bill you haven't been the same since Imus dumped you it must be something you ate out west. Keep showing us how much you really don't know about education.

Michael Fiorillo said...

Let's also not forget tat Mr. Stein is the head of Argyle Holding, LLC, a developer of luxury housing in Harlem, and that in NYC charter schools are also a real estate play.