Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hunger Strike This Wednesday, January 2, 2013!!

I've thought long and hard about it. On the night of January 1, 2013 I will eat my last meal for a while. As soon as the clock strikes midnight I will officially be on a hunger strike to keep PS 154x from closing and to keep it out of the hands of the Empire. Also, to keep the bogus evaluation system to take place. I'll add other causes. But that is all for now. I'll be drinking plenty of water.

A movement needs to happen.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Michelle Rhee Never Misses an Opportunity To Exploit a Tragedy

The news trickled throughout my school yesterday at the horrors that had befallen the students, the teachers, the parents, and the community in Newtown CT. As a father I cannot imagine what the parents of the children who perished are going through.

When I got home I immediately went online to scour the news sites to catch myself up on information that had been lagging. Then the cynical side of me took over.

I wondered to myself which educational deformer would find the need to insert themselves into this tragedy. In my opinion, I find no need to broadcast how I feel, either through Twitter, Facebook, here, on my Star Trek forums, etc... Wait, I mean I do share how I feel. But, to me, I have always find those "My prayers, my thoughts, etc..." stuff like that to be a bit contrived, along with my latest ongoing cynicism with religion, to be meaningless. I think statements like that if they are to be made should be made personally to those effected by the tragedy (by the way, I better never ever hear again from sportscaster that a team having lost is a tragedy!).

So I have digressed. But not really, I needed to explain myself for I am afraid I might take some heat for this blog post. But, that is par for the course with me and and comes with the territory.

So I decided to check out MichelleRheeFirst Facebook page and came across this little ditty;
Following today's tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the entire StudentsFirst family is mourning with the victims, their families, and the entire community of Newtown, Connecticut. We have offered our colleagues in the state any assistance they may need.

There are no adequate words to express the horror and senseless nature of violence in our schools. It happens far too often in our country.  As a mother myself, I understand the hesitation every parent will feel in the coming days when they kiss their children and send them off to school -- to a place of learning and growth that ought to be a safe haven from violence.

Our children are our most valuable assets, and we lost too many of them today. Today's event forces us to ask ourselves: how are we expected to foster an environment in which students can learn, grow, thrive, and set off on positive life-paths when we cannot guarantee basic needs such as their safety?
 But events like these also strengthen our resolve to do exactly that -- improve schools for children and thereby improve entire communities. The entire StudentsFirst organization -- including the members of our team in Connecticut -- recommit ourselves to that mission today, as we pause to send our thoughts and prayers to those affected in Newtown.
 So I read that and then found out about this teacher. I will not name the teacher or link to it. The name is not important and need not be mentioned here;
When the shooting began, XXXX said she quickly got up and closed her classroom door and ushered the children, all aged 6 and 7, into the class bathroom. She helped some climb onto the toilet so they could all fit. XXXX said she then pushed a wheeled storage unit in front of the door.
And this as well;
When she became aware there was a gunman in the school, she hid her first-graders in closets and cabinets, then told the shooter they were in the gym. He turned the gun on XXXX, killing her, but none of her students were harmed.

Bot these teachers are heroes in their own way. Both these teachers did something extraordinary that cannot be measured with a test, with a piece of paper, with an observation. They did something that none of us put in their situation have no idea what we would do.

If their acts (and I am not omitting any other acts of bravery yesterday, just only know of these two thus far), are the ultimate acts, the very definition of effective teachers, what then would have become of them if they were subject to VAM as whether or not they are effective.

 Now, I do not know what the new evaluation system in Connecticut consists of. I can only speak for what is coming or might come in NYC. But what these teachers showed is what happens in schools all over the country in one way or another every day. Intangibles that are so subjective there is no way to measure.

For Rhee and her sycophants to call these teachers in Newtown colleagues is not only laughable, but it is worse. It is vulgar. One of the worst vulgarities I have ever seen. These teachers are career teachers, who went into teaching to have a career, a lifetime of educating children. Rhee and her ilk stand for everything that is opposite of these two teachers belief systems.

But it can't stop there with MichelleRheeFirst. Rhee needs to throw in how improving schools will therefore improve communities. First, Newtown does not need to be improved. Secondly, a severely mentally ill man-child perpetuated this insidious act. Lastly, that statement needs to be reversed. Improve the communities, and the schools will fall into place.

Nice how it was thrown in the MichelleRheeFirst is in Connecticut, that it is ready to lead, ready to show those great unwashed that only MichelleRheeFirst cares.

MichelleRheeFirst is a true sociopath, a true charlatan, a con artist, a grifter, a self-promoter. She is a manipulator and worse, she is a predator. She needs to be stopped.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Another Michelle Rhee Stooge Writes in the Daily News

Oh it is always nice to read the Daily News op-ed page and see some shill for Uncle Mike, or Michelle Rhee, thinking they can speak for education, schools, teachers, their children with a artificial guise of independent thought.

Today we had another on of those type people write an opinionated op-ed in today's Daily News. Keoni Wright penned some gibberish about teacher quality and his twin daughters in the same school, PS 158 in Brooklyn, yet with disparate teachers.

Mr Wright at first glance is a manager (whatever that means) for the NYC Dept of Health & Mental Hygiene. He is also a card carrying member of MichelleRheeFirst. 

While we here at SBSB applaud Mr Wright for taking an interest in his twin daughter's education, we hold our heads in indignation at the words that Mr Wright wrote of his own free mind and will. Words, that were his own. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. 

Mr Wright wrote, I have a unique perspective on this, because I’ve got twin daughters in kindergarten. They go to the same neighborhood elementary school and sit in classrooms right next to each other. It’s clear to me, however, that this year, they are not getting the same high-quality education.

OK. So if the classrooms were further apart they both would be getting the same quality education?

One has a teacher who always seems to go the extra mile. She works hard to understand my daughter as a person and pushes her to learn and grow. My other daughter has a teacher who appears to do the bare minimum.

What exactly is the "extra mile?" Describe please, I mean without cliches. The other teacher, what is the bare minimum? Please describe.

Yet under the system we have for evaluating teachers, the two get treated the same. They’re paid the same, based only on the number of years they’ve worked and the number of advanced degrees they have. The quality of the work they do every day is irrelevant.

Yep, that is how it is. Same with cops, firefighters, paramedics, park employees, DPW workers, sanitation workers, and even MANAGERS AT THE NYC DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH!!!! Please Mr Wright, share with us how you are evaluated. 

The difference between my daughters’ teachers became even more obvious to me after superstorm Sandy, when the school was closed for a week . During that time, one teacher assigned daily homework to make sure her students continued to exercise their minds and keep up with the lesson plan. The other teacher never reached out at all. This didn’t make sense to my kids — and it certainly doesn’t make sense to me.

That is great that one daughter's teacher called daily. But, do you know for sure what the other teacher did not call? Perhaps she was more concerned with her damaged house. Perhaps she was concerned with a injured loved one. Perhaps she was injured. Perhaps she was tending to her parents. Perhaps she had no phone service. Perhaps she did not leave work that Friday with the class phone numbers and/or emails. There are countless perhaps to go through that for Mr Wright to make a blanket statement as he did above in arbitrary and capricious. 
Funny, during the week my son was out of school, not one of his teachers called at all. Nada. Bupkus.  But why didn't Mr Wright contact that teacher? 

I do my best to work with both of my girls to make sure they are learning, but one has a clear advantage based on what she’s getting in the classroom.

Do you know what the dynamics are of each classroom?Perhaps the classroom of the daughter with the teacher you don't think is any good has more students that have come into Kindergarten without any skills. Perhaps that class has more students. Perhaps that class has more students that disrupt the educational process that the teacher spends an inordinate amount of time giving attention to. Perhaps the daughter with the teacher that you think is great there is a para or aide in that classroom. Again, too many perhaps to list. Perhaps Mr Wright should rethink what he "wrote."

When I send my child to school, her teacher should at least be doing what I can do at home.

Again, where is the clear, concise evidence?

That’s why I am part of a group of concerned parents
Concerned parents? Why not just say MichelleRheeFirst? 
A new evaluation system will, I hope, help my one daughter’s outstanding teacher start to get the credit she deserves for her hard work. Maybe she can share her successful techniques with others so they can improve. It will also help my other daughter’s teacher understand that just getting by is not enough.

No. It won't. It'll just make your daughters a statistic for test makers. Besides, teachers share, and you have yet to show any evidence about the teacher you claim is "just getting by."

We also need a deal on teacher evaluations so that the city’s schools will get about $250 million in state funding.

Yet you don't complain about the millions and millions of dollars that Uncle Mike has cut from classrooms and schools over the last 4 years. 

Mr Wright did say something funny back in November at some rally at City Hall;  “I can see just from those two children that the reading level is totally different,” said Wright, whose daughters attend P.S. 158.

We need to know if the daughters are maternal or fraternal twins. I am sure Mr Wright realizes that Monozygotic twins can develop differently, due to different genes being activated. Just because they are identical, does not been they learn the same. And if they are maternal, well Mr Wright, they are two different people. 

When my son was in Kindergarten, his teacher told us that we really won't notice anything, especially his reading until January. January is not yet here Mr Wright, and these words you first said were spoken in November, which basically gave you September and October to make this uninformed opinion of your daughter's teachers. Shame on you.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Rush Inducted Into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!!!!!

This is how close I was sitting in October
In 2002 I was at my cousin's wedding in Cleveland. I had an afternoon to spend to myself while my wife tended to my nearly, at the time, 1 year old son. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was just a few blocks from the hotel and decided to check it out. There really isn't much to do in Cleveland and I went there holding my nose.

Why? Because since 1998 when Rush had been eligible to induction in the RRHOF they had yet to be nominated. Rumor always had it that Jann Wenner who controls the RRHOF hated Rush with a passion as this was evident in the years and years of his rag Rolling Stone ignoring the band as well.

But all that changed today! Finally, in the first year that Rush has been nominated, they are now members of the 2013 class into the RRHOF. They, along with Public Enemy, Randy Newman, Donna Summer, Albert King and Heart will be inducted this coming April in Los Angeles with the boradcast of the show to be on HBO in May.

Why this took so long, I have no idea. I first saw Rush in 1981, my senior year in high school during the Exit...Stage Left tour in December at the Meadowlands. After a rest of the 80's hiatus I have seen them on ever tour since 1990's Presto tour through to this past October during the most recent Clockwork Angels tour. Twenty shows in all. Now, I know that is not very impressive since I know several people that see them 30 times during a tour, but considering that Billy Joel and Neil Young are the next most frequent concerts I have seen (2x each) well, for me it is impressive.

This is a band that has gotten better with age (not that they ever sucked!). As the author of this article wrote today;
"’s that Rush has gotten better over the years. Unlike most rockers, who peak in their first decade and spend the rest of their career either treading water or slowly sinking, Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart have continued to grow over the decades. They play better now than they did then, they take more chances musically, and they write more interesting material. Frankly, I can’t think of many other bands I could say that about."
Think of every band we grew up with (those who are over 40) they all suck now. They all haven't grown. They are all living in the past. Rush isn't. They are going in new directions. Making relevant music. Still, at the ages of 60, growing as musicians and songwriters.

One thing that what Rush does for me, or I think any Rush fan, is that no matter how much I am down, how much I am pessimistic, all I need to do is listen to some Rush, listen to the words that Neil Peart has written, the magic in Geddy Lee's voice, the sensitivity of Alex Lifeson's guitar and I know that life will be OK. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School Part V: The Playroom Edition

Oh, there is fun to be had every day at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School, but only if you seek it.

The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School has turned into nothing more than a playroom. A place where students, those students that disrupt their classes, throw chairs, run through the halls, punch and kick teachers are punished by being able to finger paint play with dolls, and have ice cream parties.

Nothing is taken seriously. It is all about making the students feel good. So what if Ezra in 5th grade tells a female teacher to "suck his dick," so what if Schlomo in 5th grade tells a teacher he will "put a cap in you after school," who cares if Menachem never shows up to class. These students know that in The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School there will be zero consequences, for the good time that is awaiting them is worth getting to all the trouble they can and avoiding all the education they want.

Now, yes, we all want our students, to feel good. We all know that most of our students come from severely fractured homes. We as teachers wish we can save each and everyone of these students, to make them better people, to make them better students, to see them grow and succeed. But they cannot be coddled. They don't want to, nor do they respect being coddled.

 Most of the students who are involved in inappropriate actions at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School are boys. These boys, not all of them, but a goodly amount come from matriarchal homes, homes that have been matriarchal for generations. These boys have never had a positive male role model on their lives. They are crying out for that male role model, not only for what they are missing from having a second parent at home, but more importantly, a person who will be in their lives that offers guidance, boundaries, and knowledge of what they are going through as young men.

The students of The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School can smell bullshit from a mile away, are smart enough to know when they are being patronized and condescended to, and don't have a modicum of respect for those that treat them in such a manner. These are kids of the Projects, of the Streets, they have seen too much, been fooled too much, to allow someone to pander to them.

The students of The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School know how to manipulate the emotions of those that pander to them. Those panderers might think they are getting through, but rather they are being played like a cheap accordion bought in a long lost tag sale.

The students respect toughness along with boundaries and the ability to say what you mean and do what you say. There have been too many students over the years that have said, some as young as 2nd grade, that they respect someone because they "don't allow me to get away with anything."

So as long as The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School attitude is still in place, we will lose these students whose behavior is so atrocious but just as bad we will lose the students whose behavior and positive attitude for education is above reproach for they are in an atmosphere where learning and safety are lost because the wrong approach to discipline has been implemented.

Dr Leonard "Bones" McCoy Shares His Opinion of Education in NYC

'Nough said.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Bob the Builder Speaks For Educators4Excellence

Told ya they'll be more. Not too long after listening to nothing as explained by E4E's Eric Cartman, The Crack Team came across this figuratively emasculated gentleman who showed up in support of his wife who happens to be a teacher in the South Bronx. He cracked us up in the first video with such myths as;

That there needs to be evaluations

He's a construction worker

He is not in a union, however is employed by a union shop. C'mon, really?
He works with many union guys. Wait a minute, the same union guys that have a giant inflatable rat in front of non-union construction sites? The same union guys that shit things bigger than this guy in the video?
It's not his call on how to evaluate cops, firefighters, etc... but has no problem on how to evaluate teachers.
Says he is not an educator, but still can speak for educators.
And has worked for the Board of Ed. 

In the next video with this person, he decries a teachers rights to due process.

Love this line of this, "I'm for due process, but if you get fired, you fired, you get fired."

Didn't believe that there has been a teacher sent to Rubber Room for carrying a Coke in their hand.

What a dingus. What a dearth of independent thought.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

E4E's Eric Cartman Goes Silent on The Crack Team

The Crack Team at SBSB would like to thank the gracious hosts of Educators4Excellence for the comedy and the coffee and Dunkin' Munchkins that were generously given at today's youth rally at City Hall park in support of the new evaluation system that is being advocated.

As we know, 40% of a teacher's evaluation will be based on tests. Twenty percent on normal standardized tests and the other 20% on God knows what.

Sadly, that first 20% will be using the convoluted algorithm of Value Added Measurement.

The Crack Team wished to ask some of the E4E followers if they can explain what exactly VAM is and how what exactly is the algorithm formula. Fortunately we came across someone that is shy and did not wish to give his name. For the purpose of professional bloggerism that is so rampant here at SBSB we have decided to call this person, Eric Cartman.

As one can see, he is rather confused by the question. Or, it could be that might be an Ellen Jamesian and acts as if his tongue has been surgically removed. The Crack Team though has ascertained that his independent thought process has been surgically removed and we are sure that it can be had back one day if he asks nicely.

But a good time was had by all the subversives today. There is more to come on today's rally.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Hunger Strike for Education

How have we gotten to this point? How have we gotten to be on the precipice of the death of education in the United States of America? There is plenty of blame to go around. But, we need to look inward. There are two things that are hurting us as educators that need to be fixed before we can reverse the course education has taken. The culture of teaching and apathy. But there is a solution.

I'm not going to get too much into the culture and the apathy. I really don't want to paint with a broad brush for I know there are plenty of people out there that are fighting the good fight. But there are too many out there that just are too ignorant or too apathetic to do anything.

Why aren't cops, firefighters, paramedics, sanitation workers being attacked? Simple. These are male dominated fields. I am not trying to be misogynistic here, I am sure I have stated this before, but if teachers were mostly male, education would not be dying today.

A while back I watched Serpico on my iPhone. I was thinking to myself, where is the Frank Serpico we need so bad today? Where is that person that will put everything on the line and out the mendacity of the NYC DOE? I see no one coming forward.

Where is the Daniel Ellsberg from the ranks of administrators or Tweedies that will lay a Pentagon Papers of education on the desk of an ace reporter from the Times? I see no one coming forward.

It's been discussed on these pages in the past on what can be done. Perhaps it is time for the money to be where the mouth is.

Civil disobedience is where it's at man. Wearing a red shirt, or red underwear, or a red ribbon ain't gonna cut it.

I've been thinking of not shaving until education is fixed, not showering, not changing my clothes. But none of those will have an impact.

What can, and must be done and it is time is a full fledged hunger strike. I am seriously contemplating it and need to explore more, but I believe this is the only way to go.

If need be, I would go it alone, but as the those Irish republican prisoners realized in 1981, there is strength in numbers.

I see each and every day the destruction that Mayor Bloomberg and all his cronies have surreptitiously imposed on the unsuspecting people of the South Bronx, NYC, and the United States.

I see every day how my son is nothing but a test score and a dollar sign to Pearson, McGraw Hill, and Prentice. 

It is time for this to end. It is time for the parents and students to be heard and to truly for once come first.

It is time all those with true stakes in education to be heard.