SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: More Ignorance From Non-Educators

Monday, December 28, 2009

More Ignorance From Non-Educators

Just about a half hour or so ago I was perusing the Internet for something amusing. I decided to see if see if Interstate Rest Stop Magazine's Man of the Year Whitney Tilson's blog had been updated. I mean you can always get a good laugh there. Alas, it has not been since December 18. Oh, Whitney, the challenge still stands. So I am reading some love letter he wrote to Diane Ravitch in a style that he thinks he knows more then her when I came across yet another busy body know it all in the style of Whitney. Her name is Catherine Bellinger and she thinks she is really, really, super duper smart. She goes to Princeton, so she should be super revered, and when she speaks, should be treated like EF Hutton. She has this organization called Students for Education Reform, and a blog, as well as a page on Facebook.

Catherine was very rude to Ms Ravitch as well. Condescending, patronizing, and I guess like her mentor, pimp, teacher, etc... Whitney Tilson, just plain ignorant. Hey, NYC Educator, not doing any name calling here. Just stating facts. Mmmm,K? But I want to discuss her blabbering to Diane Ravitch another time. There is something else I came across.

On Whitney the do gooders blog he listed something Catherine listed from a book, "Sweating the Small Stuff: Inner-City Schools and the New Paternalism," by David Whitman. Entitled, "20 key practices of high-performing, high-poverty urban schools" just another manifesto in the slippery slope into turning all schools into charter schools, or just something written by someone who does not know what they are talking about. Unfortunately Li'l Catherine is taking this as gospel without using any of HOTS.

Let's examine the points.....

1.Tell students exactly how to behave and tolerate no disorder

Really? But if teachers do that SCI, or OSI will repel down the school in hoods and remove us from school.

2.Require a rigorous, college-prep curriculum.

No problem with that. I believe in challenging students. But what about the students in special ed.? Or who just aren't going to college? All students CAN learn, not all will excel. Sorry if that sounds cold but it is a fact.

3. Align curriculum with state standards and specify performance outcomes.

It's done already. DUH!

4.Assess students regularly and use the results to target struggling students.

They are assessed way too much as it is. We are talking about CHILDREN! And how do we target the struggling students when you have a class of 27 and 4 serious behavior problems?

5. Keep students busy in class with a clear plan and a variety of assignments.

Busy time.

Build a collective culture of achievement and college-going.

Sounds like Obama's socialism to me. How do you propose this happens?

Reject the culture of the streets.

Of course!!! "Hey you young student. I know your parents are never home and you are out until 11 30 even though you are in fourth grade. But give up the bling and the wads of cash and pretty please stay in school." See how simple?

Be vigilant about maintaining school culture.


Extend the school day and/or year.

I will give a massage to the first person, except Norm Scott, that will explain to me how this is a benefit.

Monitor and enforce attendance.

Really? You agree with this Catherine? See # 7 and please don't forget all the asthma related illness we have. Maybe you can help by going from borough to borough picking up all the rat feces.

Welcome accountability for adults and embrace constant reassessment.

Does this include administrators as well? What about accountability in Tweed?

Give principals and teachers more autonomy -- think "charter school."

No, think "THIRD REICH"

Eliminate (or at least disempower) local teacher unions.

HAHAHA! Why not spay or neuter? Not to worry, Mulgrew has beaten you to it.

Use unconventional channels to recruit committed teachers.

You mean hedge fund managers that want to satisfy their white liberal guilt and think they know what is best for little brown boys and girls?

Don't demand much from parents.

Yes, there should be no demands nor expectations of parents. Screw them. Who needs them. Bloomy is right.
For those who don't know, I am being a wee bit sarcastic.

Escape the constraints hobbling traditional district schools.

Isn't that what Kathy Bates did to James Caan?

Don't waste resources on fancy facilities or technology.

Or courthouses, or no bid contracts, or consultants paid in six figures.

Keep the school small.

School small, or class sizes small? This seems like code for CHARTER SCHOOL

Track and support students after they graduate.

Tracking is BS, and I think he might have been struck down in the Supreme Court.

Help create additional schools following your model.


Li'l Catherine, you need to really find another line of advocacy.


Catharine Bellinger said...

Dear A Teacher in the Bronx,

Ouch, you got me. And I deserved it. This is one of those awful situations that starts with one person feeling offended and then getting defensive (me, in my email to Whitney), and then someone else jumps in, and it just goes back and forth.

When I read Ms. Ravitch's piece for her Education Week blog a few weeks ago, I felt a little hurt on behalf of Whitney Tilson -- I know you disagree with him, so it might be hard to understand, but this is one of those times when I just got defensive on behalf of one of my friends. Mr. Tilson has been a real mentor to my student group, and really is dedicated to improving education in this country, so I reacted with anger when I saw Ms. Ravitch criticizing him and the other philanthropists featured in the NYT article.

It was the wrong reaction. Ms. Ravitch is one of education's most prominent, successful, and insightful historians and academics -- and she certainly knows more about New York education than I do. When I wrote Whitney a snarky email about her piece, I expected it to be private. I guess I hadn't listened to my mother's advice that "anything you put on the internet you should feel comfortable seeing on the front page of the paper." As soon as I saw it appear in Mr. Tilson's email blast, I was embarrassed. I knew I shouldn't have been rude and condescending -- you noticed it right away, and I'm sure other readers of his blog noticed it too. I immediately shot an email off to my friend and vice president of SFER, saying "oops. I shouldn't have said that."

I came off as young, immature, and snobby -- which wasn't my intention at all. I have a huge amount of respect for Ms. Ravitch as well as educators such as yourself who go to work every day with the goal of raising student achievement and preparing them for success in college and life.

Ms. Ravitch and I may disagree on policy issues -- and I would LOVE to debate some with you as well, in a more appropriate forum -- but that is no excuse for my rudeness toward Ms. Ravitch. You called me out justly (a little harshly, but I can't say I didn't deserve it).

I hope you'll forgive me for my harsh words against Ms. Ravitch. Some of my quibbles stand, but I should have phrased them more politely and, most importantly, with more humility.

I would love to hear about your experiences in New York, so if you are ever in the Princeton area, please email me again (as you did when you wrote this blog post) so we can set up a time to get some coffee. Alternatively, maybe we could talk on IM or Skype. I never pass up an offer to hear another point of view or talk to a current teacher.


Catharine Bellinger
A student who really cares, wants to learn about reform efforts, and should try harder not to be a know-it-all. (Policy debates on the internet aren't the time and place for rudeness, and I apologize.)

Anonymous said...

Teacher from the Bronx,

How many levels of growth do your students typically achieve in a year? How do you determine which of your students "will" learn versus those who "can" learn? Why would it be "socialist" if all the students in your classroom or at your school were learning on grade level and were accepted to college? And lastly, why do charter schools threaten you so much?

An interested student

ed notes online said...

Interested student:

The very jargon of your comment indicate where you are coming from.
As a student please share with us answers to your own questions in your own school.

Did you know that only 27% of the jobs require college and that the nation's largest employers are McDonalds and Walmart? These non-college jobs are the real drivers fo the ed deform movement to which you and Catherine and Tilson have signed onto. But Tilson knows the real score while you guys are just flumoxed.

Come teach in NYC schools for 5 years and then ask your questions.