Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School Part IX: No Library Allowed!

All is not happy, least of all the books in the library at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School, where learning, reading, and writing supposedly come first.

For several months now, The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School has been without a professional in the library for several months. For years there had been a professional in the library, but alas, there is a professional no more. What is the The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School to do without one?

One can safely assume in a place such as The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School in which a premium is placed on the students having a happy good time learning, reading, and writing. One can assume that students needs and having a library professional in place would take precedence over those with ego and control issues. Sadly, The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School is not such a place.

Not only is there not a professional in the library at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School, but worse, the library is closed. Closed by a (CENSORED!) due to no library professional on staff. Why? Spite mainly. But more so out of having to control everything at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School.

One could ask why not ask those that are not of a professional nature to receive training and volunteer their time on a rotating basis in seeing to the upkeep and professional duties at the library at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School? Yes, these volunteers won't bring to the table the full library experience that a professional does but they will be just as valuable in providing services to the students that are always deemed to come first and that the (CENSORED!) claims are so important.

These volunteers can be in the library supervising the students, checking books in and out and re-shelving books. The dividends would be extraordinary. Students will be able to check out books and have a lifetime love of reading. Maybe the hours won't be the entire school day, but something is better than nothing.

There are also computers in the library that not only the students don't have access to, but staff as well. For some reason the (CENSORED!) seems to think this is a good thing. Students can't access learning and staff are unable to work on their craft.

But this is life at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School. Where everything, down to how one shall make a proper doody is in the school handbook. The North Korean government is less controlling of its citizenry than the (CENSORED!) at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Next MORE Bronx Happy Hour on April 5

Come one, come all, the next, best MORE happy hour and is this coming Friday, April 5th at 4 PM in the Beautiful Bronx.

Again, mention Frank Sinatra Jr and get a glass of vino on the house. 


MORE  (Movement of Rank and File Educators)  



 H A P P Y      H O U R @

             Friday, April 5……… 4 pm to 7 pm    

         579  Grand Concourse  @ 150th Street

Across the street from the big
Bronx Post Office

The same spot as Giovanni's Pizzeria!!!

Just 1 block north of the 4 and 5 trains
The 2 train!!!!!

Or take the bus, 
Bx1, Bx2, or the Bx19

          Valet parking , street parking available

WHEN:  Friday, April 5……… 4 pm to 7 pm

Why: Meet other Bronx-based UFTers

              Talk about the UFT Elections, Teaching, Testing, Danielson, etc. 

    Get lit to distribute at school

       Find out about other MORE events

              Share problems/strategies for building a chapter that *matters*

       DRINK, EAT; 

           Have a good time! 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Frustrated Substitute Teacher

My friend The Frustrated Teacher wrote a quite funny, yet sad, post on Facebook the other night about a foray of his into substitute teaching. It really hits home at what is happening to our society and to our educational values.

 With his permission, I am sharing it here.

Putting the 28 most dysfunctional kids in the same split 4th/5th class is a bad idea.

Today's experience marks the first time I have left a classroom because I couldn't handle the kids. Admittedly, they were running around with scissors threatening to kill each other, and there were 2 fistfights in the room, and 2 kids called their moms on banned cell phones, who then showed up at the door demanding I release their kids, or else....

Split the kids up. Move them to other rooms. Stop giving them boring worksheets (which were my sub plans for the day, and obviously what goes on most days, as the regular teacher can't handle them either, I hear). Stop coming in the class, Principal and her henchmen to tell them it's the African American kids who are shaming the AA adults, and that's why they should behave.

Clean the room; I saw a custodian.

When a parent shows up to pick up their kid, who called them from a phone they weren't supposed to have, only to complain that the sub is trying to teach and in the process asked for quiet, which was apparently offensive, mom, send that parent back home without the kid. Or demand that the parent take the phone from the kid, then leave. But don't support this ridiculous, anti-teacher, anti-school behavior from parents.

When the teacher called my mom it was because I was in trouble. If I called my mom it was because I was hurt. Nowadays, kids call their moms from smuggled cell phones, make shit up about the teacher to get mom to come, and the 'bad teacher' meme gets perpetuated, erroneously. The parent/school partnership does not mean that stupidity or bad parenting gets respect. That's just stupid.

If we are going to attempt to solve poverty inside schools --which seems to be the idea, lately-- then schools can't pander to horrible parents.

The cycle of generational poverty was on display inside that room today.

Surely it was all my fault. I mean, I was the teacher.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Vote For Julie Cavanagh and the MORE Slate in UFT Elections

It is getting to be that time of the year. On April 3, the ballots will be mailed to all UFT members for the  UFT elections in which we will decide whether or not to keep Michael Mulgrew as UFT president and Unity in control.

We here at SBSB, myself and The Crack Team, endorse the entire MORE (Movement of Rank and File Educators) slate and Julie Cavanagh as president. This endorsement does not come just because yours truly is on the ballot for executive board, but because I truly feel that a change, and a
worthwhile change at that, is needed in the UFT leadership.

Ask yourself a very simple question. Are you better off now than you were three years ago (the last Union election)? Are you better of now since October 31, 2009? That is how long we have been working without a contract. Are you better off than you were in 2005 when Randi Weingarten, then UFT president gave away the seniority rights and grieving letters to the file? Are you better off than you than you were January 1, 2002, the day Bloomberg became mayor and Weingarten started her collaboration with him?Yes, financially we are better off since 2002. But think of the grander picture.

Think ahead. Will you be better off a year, two years, three years from now? Stop and think. I mean even financially you can be worse off. God forbid you are rated ineffective 2 years in a row on the basis of junk math. Then what happens? Take away the pension, will you be better or worse off in the future emotionally, physically, job wise?

The answer to all the above questions are pretty obvious. Of course not, and do you know why?

Because the current management of the UFT serves only themselves, not you! Yes, there might have been a time when the UFT cared about its members but those days are long gone. That is why it's time for a change.

I know Julie was attacked by the UFT last week for daring to be concerned about her son instead of showing up at a delegate meeting, but come on. The delegate assembly is nothing more than a Supreme Soviet meeting. It is nothing more than an arm of Mulgrew and harbors no independent thought. Going to a DA meeting is like watching the Politburo in action.

I know Julie, I have met her, and she is real. That is what we need, real leadership. A real person. The beliefs, morals, and honor from the top will trickle down to the borough leaders, to the district leaders, to the chapter leaders. Your wants, concerns, and feelings will be not only recognized, but actually heard and respected. Never again will you be told to be silent, or told to take it, or be told to acquiesce. Having to deal with the DOE from weakness will be a thing of the past.

Julie and the entire MORE caucus (Please read MORE's platform), will put the needs of the students, the schools, and the teachers ahead of the city's. Never again will there be cowering and fear shown to the mayor. Never again will teacher's fears be unanswered. Only you, and each one of us that looks to the UFT to be true leaders in education, to be when a city turns its head to the union, can make sure this happens.

The ballots are being mailed out April 3 and it is safe to assume that the ballot will arrive in mailboxes just a few days later. Apathy is our worst enemy. That's what the city and Unity want. It is time to change that.

Instead of tossing that ballot in the garbage, or putting it with the other junk mail, fill out that ballot right away. Vote for the MORE slate. All it will take is 30 seconds to mark the box. Put it in the envelope and mail it.

This election can't be won with just Julie and MORE. It can only be won by you. Julie and MORE can't change the culture alone, they can only do it with you. You are the most important person in this election. You have the power alone to change education in New York and the country.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School Part VIII: This Shit Can't Be Made Up!

It is getting goofier by the day at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School. No one, not even the good Lord himself can make this shit up.

Now remember before the tale is told, The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School uses the most awesome as well and most excellent PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) system. The key to this system is the card. A student starts at neutral (white), they do well and the student gets a green then a blue card, and when you are a bad child you go from yellow to red. Got it?

The problem is twofold. One, the students who get to red on a consistent basis, and there are plenty don't give a shit, that no matter how often their card lands on red it ain't gonna change a thing. Two, what are the consequences of getting on red? The students who are from the above group supposedly get a phone call home but these are the students of the parents who do jack as parents anyway so what is the purpose of the red card and the phone call?

So today at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School a class of over hyper 4th graders just after lunch went to their specialty class out of control. Oh, and with their portable (from their homeroom)  PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) card system.

First, Izzy Rabinowitz was screaming at the teacher, cursing the teacher and telling the teacher to go to hell. The reason for this was the teacher had promised punitive measures to Izzy that if he did not stay on line and discontinue his abhorrent behavior towards the other students and the teacher. Luckily for this teacher, a concerned non pedagogue took pity and seperated Izzy from the rest of the class.

Meanwhile Izzy's best friend, Shecky Green annoyed that he was facing the same consequences as Izzy due to his bad behavior started having a tantrum and throwing chairs in the classroom and threatening to hit other students with a yard stick.

The teacher, following proper protocol for The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School, notified the office so the ROD (Responder on Duty and this will be explained in another blog post) will whisk these two students away. The person on the other end of the line recommended that the teacher call a quite high up, but not the highest up upper echelon type person to respond. The teacher promptly did.

What follows is the truly from the files of "you can't make this shit up."

Teacher: Shecky is throwing chairs, threatening students with a yard stick.

The quite high up, but not the highest up upper echelon type: Did you change Shecky's card to red?

Teacher: He came into the class with his card on red, there is no other card to put him on except double secret red.

The quite high up, but not the highest up upper echelon type: Did you try other strategies to keep him from throwing the chairs?

Teacher: Yes, I asked him nicely and said please.

The quite high up, but not the highest up upper echelon type: (frustrated sigh) I'll be right there.

There you have it. There is no way, no how, no chance this shit can be made up.

I wonder (as I rub my chin looking skyward) does this happen in Scarsdale? Does a version of The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School exist in Chappaqua? I wonder.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Read How Lucy Calkins Ruins A Life in 2023

On March 6 we here at SBSB shared the wisdom of Robert Pondiscio and his thoughts on cult leader Lucy Calkins methods of of abusing children with her failed Reader's Workshop. Later that evening I tweeted Robert and asked him if he had ever shared his thoughts on the other abusive Calkins failure, of Writer's Workshop. He indeed did.

A few things stick out in his article. Just for full disclosure, I have been blessed this year to be at several Writer's Workshop workshops given by 25 year old presenters. I have also been blessed with reading those writer's notebooks that Lucy so loves and must say how amazed I am by the writing in these notebooks. Amazed at how all the bad grammar, spelling, and lack of any writing mechanics whatesoever.

Rob wrote, Of course children will be become better writers if they write personal narratives instead of book reports.

I think, I pray he is being sarcastic with that statement. I know he is, but it got me to wondering.

Yes, the students are always supposed to write about that life experience garbage and make a list of what they can write about because "good writes pick stupid fucking things" from their lives to write about. But how does this help you get a job or show that you understand widgets?

Think years down the road when that student that was abused from years of dealing with the Calkins methodology gets a directive from his boss.

"Jones, I need a report on the widgets we're shipping in from Hong Kong tomorrow, stat!"

Jones, wanting to make his boss happy will undoubtedly say, "Yes sir!" and then proceed to sit at his desk staring into space wondering to himself and scratching his head, "What the fuck is a report?"

Jones scours the Internet to find out how to write that report. Sadly, he has no previous knowledge to assist him and he falls back into familiar habits.

He runs to Staples and buys a black marbled notebook, turns to the front page and writes; "Good writers create reports from life experience about widgets."

He lists everything he knows about widgets excepting the widgets arriving in from Hong Kong the next day.

He then puts pen to paper and and writes his first draft of the report. Sadly it is not a report but more a personal narrative of his knowledge of widgets.

With his first draft, he scampers from cubicle to cubicle in the office looking for a colleague to edit the so-called report. His work colleagues, already with a command of the English language and proper writing mechanics, tell him to "piss off!" whilst laughing hardidly at him.

Ashamed, Jones does the best he can to write the report. When his boss reads it and sees that it is not a report but rather a narrative of Jones' experience with widgets the Boss promptly fires him.

Fired, Jones goes home dejected and explains what happened to his pregnant with twins wife. Fed up at last she tells him that she can not be married to someone so ignorant and promptly orders him to leave their home.

With nowhere to go, Jones moves into the local homeless shelter. He is unable to get Unemployment benefits due to being fired for cause and without medical or dental benefits he can't have the gigantic goiter removed from his neck and see a dental professional for his bleeding gums.

With a goiter and no teeth, not one company will hire Jones. Penniless, homeless, and with a new goiter prominently protruding from the other side of his neck, Jones is left to wander the streets of Morningside Heights ruing the day that his idiot principals, who were mesmerized and brainwashed by Lucy Calkins, allowed him to turn into an writing illiterate.

When things just can't get any worse he sees Lucy Calkins get into her $55k car on Amsterdam Ave. At that moment, he figured out what matters most to Lucy. and it was never him or his classmates.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School Part VII: THE TRAIN WRECK

When last we visited The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School we saw how the proverbial doody is hitting the proverbial fan. That ain't nothing.

The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School is now nothing more than a train wreck awaiting the clean up crew wreckage of corpses of hope and education of what will ceased to be, especially after tonight's PEP meeting.

To say that there is no direction at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School is an understatement. Yes, we here at SBSB do believe that the intentions of the decision makers at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School were the best, however one can only look and see with the carnage of all about The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School. Incredulously, those in charge saw that what was intended wasn't working, and they didn't alter course. They did not see that to continue to wish that they're failings become success is nothing more than complete negligence on their part.

As mentioned in back on March 7 about a the riot, who is paying the price for this at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School? The students involved in the riot? The students on the periphery of the riot who though not rioting do involve themselves in severely disruptive behavior day in and day out? No, of course not. That will be too difficult. The easy way is to make every student pay. Yeah, the students who come to The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School expecting to learn, expecting to be safe, and expecting to be happy, are the ones that are paying the price. Why? Simple. Because God forbid the "disruptors" are made to feel sad about themselves, not happy about The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School. It is all about placating such students and "to hell" the students who wish to learn.

There are simple reasons why this is happening. One is the general attitude of The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School Christ induce figure. The figure looks down at these children of color and sees them as group that needs to be conformed, to be saved, to be tamed, to be corrected. This reminds me of meeting Evangelical Christians who felt that I as a Jew needed to conform, to be saved, to be tamed, and to be corrected. So like the Jews, the boys and girls of color  at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School, will have their souls saved by the "Mythical in their Own Mind Great White Person."

Besides, there is no place to put the disruptive students. There had been a place to save them, but they can be saved no more for that avenue is closed. Instead of these students truly being saved (CENSORED)saved them is busy at the (CENSORED) running contests, ice cream parties and assuring that (CENSORED)fecal matter shant ever smell again. Rumor has it that cherry flavored Kook-Aid keeps the smell (CENSORED)at bay.

But who cares about the students at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School being SAVEd when other outside violent students need be saved? These students look to be saved but instead are thrown into the population of The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School where the disruption they have caused elsewhere just continues and destroys another child's education. 

Maybe the good Lord above can come down and save these students. For these students need a deity, or Jeebus to come to them. Or someone that is not too busy.

Sadly, almost all eyes at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School are closed wide shut. Almost all heads at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School are buried in the sand. Almost all eyes at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School all closed real tight wishing that the problems will go away. Those that have tricked themselves into believing that it is better at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School than the before time have truly tricked themselves. These people can be saved. They must be saved.

For those that look to the top of The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School and only see Jim Jones spoon feeding them the Kool Aid, sadly it is too late.

Where is The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School's only hope, Obi Wan Kenobi?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Introducing the Master Race of South Bronx Classical Charter School

Every charter school has a board of trustees, a bunch of do gooders if you will. South Bronx Classical Charter is no different. Therefore, we here at SBSB wish to introduce the trustees of SBCC to the District 7 and PS 154 community. See if you can notice a pattern.

First up is C. Stephen Baldwin; Chairman of the SBCCS Board of Trustees.
Steve is...currently a writer, has served as counsel with the United Nations, executive director of the Learning Disabilities Association of NYC, third grade teacher in the South Bronx, and arbitrator/mediator with the United Nations, Population Council, and Ford Foundation.

Steve seems really old and we are curious on how long he taught 3rd grade in the Bronx

Next is James Maher; Trustee. Steve's education background consists of;

Mr. Maher is a Vice President of Real Estate Acquisitions at BlackRock Kelso Capital Corporation, where he evaluates and underwrites potential real estate acquisitions in the New York metropolitan area.  Mr. Maher received his Master’s Degree in Real Estate Finance & Investment in 2011 and his BA from Brown University in 2003

The first chick is Kathryn Moore Heleniak; Vice Chair who happens to be an artist or something like that.

Dr. Heleniak is an author and a professor of Art History at Fordham University. She was a residential fellow at the Ligurian Center for Arts and Humanities, a recipient of a Mellon Fellowship at the Yale Center for British Art, and was named an Outstanding Teacher in the Humanities at Fordham College.

This is an interesting board member. J. Kevin Murphy; Board Secretary is a NYC DOE teacher at PS 96 in Harlem. Quite interesting. Whose side is he on? Oh, The Crack Team has not found a photo of him as of press time. Could he be "Black Irish?"

Mr. Murphy is a technology teacher at P.S. 96 in East Harlem. Previously, he was an agent with Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company and a vice president at Morgan Guaranty Trust Company of New York.

What is disturbing is how a NYC public school teacher is sleeping with the enemy.

Melissa Brown; Treasurer. Impressive background;

Ms. Brown is a vice president in the Leveraged Finance investment banking group at Barclays Capital. Melissa earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Mathematics from Williams College. 

 Glad to see the eyebrows are close to her hair color.

William F. Higgins, Trustee, already commented on him. Fake football here and disgraced former FBI agent.

Larry Hirsch; Trustee

Larry is important. He is a senior CPD representative with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Previously, he served as director of government and community relations for the Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City as well as in various other housing and development roles. 

Larry is 2nd from the right. I'm sure the people of the projects feel that you are on their side, right Larry?

Kristi Jaques; Trustee an associate attorney at King & Spalding LLP, specializing in international arbitration. Kristi earned a J.D. at Duke University School of Law and a B.S. from the University of Michigan. 

Wayne and Garth think she is babelicious. Schwing!

Louisa Childs; Trustee General Counsel of The Dwight School. Prior to joining Dwight, Ms. Childs was an associate at King & Spalding. 

Wayne and Garth are unimpressed. Though one physical attribute reminds them of another celebrity. 

So there you have it. The entire politburo, er, I meant junta. no wait, it will come to me. The Reich cabinet of South Bronx Classical Charter School.

Ironic how not one person is of color or has any education background. People of the South Bronx you are being duped.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School Part VI: The Doody Has Hit the Fan

With what metaphor do I use to describe the state of The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School? The proverbial shit has hit the proverbial fan? The wheels of The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School are coming off? Turn off the lights, The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School is over, all good things must end?

The first sign on the poop hitting the fan came several months ago when students were kept away from the room in which they can hit and kick the Bobo doll so they can feel better about themselves instead of owning up to their disruptive and destructive tendencies. Apparently it was deemed more worthy for students to create make believe feel good worthless acting projects, or finger paint, or to play board games, or just running out of class and being rewarded with ice cream. Oh, and candy.

There was a near riot last week at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School. It was inevitable. This was bound to happen. Some say what triggered the near riot was what could be called a gang assault. But not to mind, all is well. All is happy.

It never had to come to this. Sadly, The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School has been using the discipline code suggested on these pages 4 years ago, though with one caveat. The dreaded card system of PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) in which when you do good you get a green then a blue card, and when you are a bad child you go from yellow to red.

So what if this has been proven to be a disaster at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School.

So what if this system of rewards has a plantation "the massa or the missus" type of mentality.

So what if the Assertive Discipline advocated and found by Lee Canter works.

So what if the rewards promised through this bogus card system don't work because the students want instant gratification, the rewards now, not when the accumulate enough "credits."

It is all about taming, sublimating, those great unwashed boys and girls of color. Because only the great white hype in their own mind knows what is best.

So what if the problems that started in September were stopped then and there, the shit flying now would not be happening.

But of course, all the children must come to The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School to be happy, for they all come from unhappy homes (BIGOTED THINKING!!). School is a happy (puke) place.  Just an aside, my 6th grade son has no business being happy in school. He is there to learn. Sorry. That is reality, that is how it is.

But if students are supposed to feel happy at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School how can you feel happy when you feel unsafe?

But the men of The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School have been effectively neutered if they are not bleeding hear liberals and the flunkies are rewarded.

A student who gets in the most trouble at The Happy Good Time Emotion Response Place and School shared something very interesting with The Crack Team. This student, Chaim Rosenberg, said "the teachers are too nice." What does that tell you?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Cracks Are Beginning to Show in the Cult of Lucy Calkins

What a week it has been for Lucy Calkins and her cult of failure. Aside from being vilified on these pages twice in one week, yours truly had inquired, when confronted with "the students are not reading and writing" by a self important person high up the NYC DOE chain with the answer, "so why are we using a program like TC then?" Of course that question was met with silence.

But then lo and behold what is it that is gracing the pages of in the Op-Ed section of today's Daily News? Simply, a great piece by former NYC teacher at PS 277 in District 7, Robert Pondiscio ( I wonder if I know him from back in the day).

Robert brought up some really great points in his piece; in fact he educated me a great deal.  Without stepping on his toes, I would like to comment on some of the points he made.

....And the big news is that the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, a “balanced literacy” curriculum developed by literacy guru Lucy Calkins, was left off the city’s recommended list.

It would have been safe and easy to stay the course, since the city has spent tens of millions of dollars on this approach in the last decade. Instead, the Education Department is steering teachers in a different direction.

Here is what I wonder. Though it seems I might have some facts incorrect, it seems from what The Crack Team has picked up thus far it will still be a schools prerogative whether or not they stick with balanced literacy or shift to the new recommended curricula the DOE is introducing. 

Say for instance a school, let's say a school in which the entire administration has been brainwashed into believing balanced literacy works, and the leader of said administration believes the leader itself is never wrong keeps balanced literacy, then what? Should the administration share with the parents not only why but announce that balanced literacy is staying. How can such an administration justify this when up to 70% (numbers that expected) of schools across the city are using the recommended curricula? Who will be held responsible?

The reason for the poor performance is that Calkins and her acolytes have never fully understood the way kids learn to be fully literate.

True, because one thing that Calkins and her personality cult do understand is how to promote Lucy Calkins. This is nothing different than walking into an airport and seeing the Moonies and their deification of Rev. Moon. Only difference is the brain wished walking dead cultists of Calkins are not trying to pin a flower on you.

All of my students could decode words, which meant, technically, they could all read. But the vast majority struggled to make sense of the words in front of them and consistently demonstrate comprehension.
  In other words, for all they’d been taught about the skill of reading, they hadn’t been given the necessary knowledge to truly make sense of the words and sentences.

An aside, I always have believed that students do not get the skills to decode due to Calkins and her folly.

Several months ago a cultist of Lucy suggested some great books on friendship, character, etc... Ronde and Tiki Barber wrote a series of books, great books in fact, that revolve around kids football. It was heavily suggested that I read these books to the students. I had second thoughts (You'll see in a few words why) but I gave it the old college try.

I sat down with a 4th grade class and read. After 3 pages all I saw were blank looks and confusion. Not that they weren't interested, but the football lingo left them confused. Terms like first down, safety, wide receiver, tight end, flanker, linebacker, were foreign to them. Not just the girls mind you, but the boys! And these were boys that enjoyed football. 

It’s hard to understand even a simple story about baseball, for example, if you know nothing about baseball.

It's just not baseball, but so much more. It all comes back to the vocabulary. I wish I had the exact numbers, but the vocabulary of a Kindergarten student from the suburbs vs a student from the South Bronx is astronomical. And not just vocabulary, but life experiences as well.

They generally arrive in school with smaller vocabularies and less general knowledge than children who grow up in book-filled homes with educated parents who read to them, take them to museums and enrich their lives with everything from sports to dance classes.

Whoops, spoke, I mean, typed too soon. Though I might digress with Robert that educated parents just can read to the children and give them a worldwide experience. 

Teachers encourage children to choose books at a level that’s “just right” for them and read only what interests and engages them. That sounds sensible — we want kids to enjoy reading — but over time, it’s like eating only what you like instead of a well-rounded diet, or exercising only your biceps at the gym.

Great! So many times I have taken my son to Barnes and Noble to buy a book. He is in 6th grade and reads several grades above. He loves those sports themed novels, and anything sports. But I have made him, usually saying a sports themed book bought a classic or a fiction book or two must be bought. But better, his ELA teacher saw the pattern early this year and put the kibosh on Mike Lupica.

Its central premise is that an essential goal of reading instruction must be to ensure that all students — and disadvantaged kids most specifically — are explicitly taught the knowledge and vocabulary that speakers and writers assume they know.

It understands that science, history, geography, art, music and everything else a child learns contribute mightily to his or her ability to make sense of the world through reading.

In short, it stops treating reading comprehension as a skill to be taught and sees it as a reflection of everything a child learns about the world. The more children know, the more they can read with genuine comprehension.

Freaking beautiful.

In my opinion, in the opinion of The Crack Team, and humankind, not only would it be a travesty for any school administrator to continue using balanced literacy, but it would be child abuse, yes, a criminal act.

I hope Mr Pondiscio will contribute more to the Daily News. Would love to hear his opinion about Lucy's method of teaching writing.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

This Friday 3/8/13 Night MORE Happy Hour in the Bronx!!!!

Come one, come all to the first MORE Happy Hour in the Beautiful Bronx this Friday night, March 8, 2013.

Come with an open mind and hear what we have to say. There will be no hard sell, no commitments asked. But. I guarantee you after you hear the shit I have been through and my colleagues have you will go MORE.

Tell the guys at The Clock Bar Frank Sinatra Jr sent you and get a free glass of wine. j/k

MORE Bronx Happy Hour
Friday, March 8th 4 - 7pm

The Clock Bar, 112 Lincoln Ave., btwn Bruckner Blvd. and 134th St. Just take the 6 train to 138th St-3rd Ave and walk down to Lincoln Ave or hop the Bx15 which stops in front of the bar!

The UFT Elections are just around the corner, and the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) is running in the elections!  We aim to to build a fighting, democratic union that vigorously defends public education.  Our current leadership squanders our union dues on bloated officer salaries, double pensions, and more.  They depend on back room dealing and compromises which have steadily eroded our working conditions and our students' learning conditions.  Instead we will funnel these squandered resources to mobilize the rank and file fight for a fair contract, against evaluations based on standardized test scores and for quality public education for all students.
Come join us for a discussion about the elections and how to build for MORE.
MORE Bronx Happy Hour
Friday, March 8th 4 - 7pm

The Clock Bar, 112 Lincoln Ave., btwn Bruckner Blvd. and 134th St. Just take the 6 train to 138th St-3rd Ave and walk down to Lincoln Ave or hop the Bx15 which stops in front of the bar!

Google Maps

Friday, March 1, 2013

BREAKING NEWS!!! Lucy Calkins and Her Failed Experiment Are Out at the NYC DOE!!!!

Like the Tenctonese (Newcomers) finally able to live free, the persecution of NYC's over 1 million  students finally ceased with a whimper rather than a thud.

The NYC DOE is;
...recommending a set of math and English curriculum options for grades K-8 and will spend the coming months supporting principals and teachers in becoming familiar with these new materials. 
Now break out the champagne. None of these options involves Teacher's College, Lucy Calkins, Reader's Workshop and Writer's Workshop. (Is it just me or am I the only one thinking of the celebrations on Coruscant at the end of Return of the Jedi?)

According to the NYC DOE;
For English Language Arts, the Department is recommending that schools select either NYSED’s Core Knowledge or Pearson’s ReadyGen for grades K-2, either of which could be used by a school as a stand-alone curriculum or paired with the Fundations phonics program. For grades 3-5, the DOE is recommending that schools either continue with ReadyGen or select NYSED’s Expeditionary Learning curriculum. Expeditionary Learning is also recommended for grades 6-8, along with Scholastic’s Codex While varying in style and structure, these programs—like those the DOE is recommending in math—hew tightly to the Common Core’s instructional shifts: they include a balance of rigorous fiction and non-fiction texts, build students’ academic vocabulary and knowledge across content areas, and engage students in using evidence from texts to make oral and written arguments.

The Department of Education believes that the selected programs represent the highest-quality Common Core-aligned curriculum materials currently available. They include brand new curriculum materials and materials that are being updated to fully reflect the shifts required by the Common Core standards.

While we here at SBSB cynically assume that these curricula are probably crap, or at the very least, need to be proven, we applaud the fact that Lucy Calkins has probably seen her last case of abusing children in NYC. But we are encouraged by seeing the word PHONICS mentioned and look forward to the day that 8th graders in NYC will have decoding skills. No longer will TC be responsible for making the students of NYC "dumber than wood" as one qualified educators once shared with me.

What of all the students who are suffering through a year, not to mention their entire lives in the NYC public schools, in which they learn nothing due to the incompetency of Lucy Calkins? Who will give them back their lives? Who will give them back all those precious wasted years of not learning and being able to read and write?

Who will give back the careers of teachers forced to teach the horrible Balanced Literacy approach that was used as a sword against them rather than a blanket to protect them? How many sick, twisted principals got off knowing that they set up VETERAN teachers to fail by forcing a known and failed method of teaching our most troubled youths to read, write, and appreciate the written word?

A generation of NYC children will pay the price of a failed experiment. But Lucy Calkins and the $5 million she received last year from the DOE, as well as the close minded administrators that implemented her cult of learning, will not pay the price.

Lucy Calkins and her Balanced Literacy abused children. As teachers, as educators, we are mandated reporters. Is it not mandatory for us to notify the Child Protective Services in Albany or ACS in NYC?

We here at SBSB wish to take some credit towards the eradication of Lucy Calkins. It was here on this very blog that we feel assisted in exposing what Lucy Calkins is and isn't.

So long and be gone Lucy Calkins. Please, stay far away.