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School Safety Guards – They Got Your Back: Excerpt from “Yo Miz!”

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

“Wednesday!” I greet the security guard cheerfully as I walk in.

“You got it,” she replies.

“Goin’ slow, right?”
“Oh my Gawd.” She shakes her head.

“It’s because of Memorial Day, right? It goes so slow waiting for Friday.”
“You can say that again. I’m goin’ crazy. I cannot wait.” These guards work hard for the money. Their shifts can be extremely long, from 6:30 am to 10 pm, depending on the needs of the building. It’s easy to walk into a school and see a couple of uniformed school safety officers laughing and “sitting around.” However, they are the eyes and ears of the school. Everyone depends on them. Everything bumps up to their desks: flaring tempers, flying fists, crabby administrators, sobbing children, threats, litter, personal secrets from isolated adolescents. They don’t get rewarded with long summer vacations like teachers. They have to keep up with their training sessions. They are serious guardians of the peace. They need to maintain their sense of humor. They have their own families with children, often students in the public schools. They are role models, adult confidants for kids who wake up in shelters or single-parent homes where parenting takes second and third place to survival issues. They keep the school safe. They help keep the kids straight. They are surrogate parents, psychologists, friends and nurturers. They are tough, strong and big hearted. When you visit a school, make friends with them. They might be the ones you call on in your moment of need. They got your back.

Yo Miz horse best photo

“Yo Miz!” interview on The Catskill Review of Books – and…pre order postponed for a minute…

Yo Miz horse best photoIf you have absolutely nothing better to do with your day, you may listen to our first interview with Ian Williams, host of “The Catskill Review of Books.”

My assessment:

1)  Ian is VERY well informed about the current state of educational policy making.

2) Best if I talk about the kids I met during my wacky year teaching in 25 Manhattan public high schools.  There are some brilliant spokespersons on the BIG issues:  Diane Ravitch, Mark Naison, Ian Williams…

3) Good start.  Note to self:  Talk about the kids.  Keep it funny.  Yo Miz horse best photo


Pre-orders for “Yo Miz!” the book are postponed for a minute.  I’ll get back to you on this.

Funny, entertaining, heartwarming, provocative first reading from “Yo Miz!” by me: October 10, 6 pm, Jeffersonville Public Library, Jeffersonville, NY.





wealthy schools

The World’s Highest Achieving Public Schools are (fanfare!) – USA’s Wealthiest!

And…most of them are unionized!

David Sirota writes in Salon:

“…for all the claims that the traditional public school system is flawed, America’s wealthiest traditional public schools happen to be among the world’s highest-achieving schools. Most of those high-performing wealthy public schools also happen to be unionized. If, as “reformers” suggest, the public school system or the presence of organized labor was really the key factor in harming American education, then those wealthy schools would be in serious crisis — and wouldn’t be at the top of the international charts. Instead, the fact that they aren’t in crisis and are so high-achieving suggests neither the system itself nor unions are the big factor causing high-poverty schools to lag behind. It suggests that the “high poverty” part is the problem.”

Love data?  Need proof?  How ’bout Joanne Barken’s in “Dissent”.

The most recent data come from the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment, released in December 2010. PISA tested fifteen-year-olds in sixty countries (plus five non-state entities such as Hong Kong) in reading, math, and science. Consider the results in reading, the subject assessed in depth in 2009: U.S. students in public schools with a poverty rate of less than 10 percent (measured by eligibility for free or reduced-price lunches) scored 551, second only to the 556 score of the city of Shanghai, which doesn’t release poverty data. The U.S. students outperformed students in all eight participating nations whose reported poverty rates fall below 10 percent. Finland, with a poverty rate of just 3.4 percent, came in second with a score of 536. As the level of student poverty in U.S. public schools increased, scores fell. Because of the high overall child-poverty rate (20.7 percent), the average reading score for all U.S. students was 500 (fourteenth place). In short, poverty drags down our international standing (see this Department of Education site).

So when it comes to our wealthiest public schools…

We’re number 2!  We’re number 2!

And when it comes to number 2…school “reformers” are full of it.rahm e with finger

Blackfeet Nation

Close Schools, Export The Poor, Gentrify the ‘Hood – Sounds Like a Plan

Leslie Fenwick, Dean of Howard University’s School of Education, points out in the Washington Post’s “The Answer Sheet”, that Urban school reform is ultimately, a land grab by venture capitalists. She writes:

“As the nation’s inner cities are dotted with coffee shop chains, boutique furniture stores, and the skyline changes from public housing to high-rise condominium buildings, listen to the refrain about school reform sung by some intimidated elected officials and submissive superintendents. That refrain is really about exporting the urban poor, reclaiming inner city land, and using schools to recalculate urban land value. This kind of school reform is not about children, it’s about the business elite gaining access to the nearly $600 billion that supports the nation’s public schools. It’s about money.”

I’m a little stuck on this “export” thang.  Venture capitalists are great planners, right?  I’m curious.  Where do they plan to export the indigenous population?  I mean, you have to be thinking big, considering the large inner city populations of NY…LA.  Export ‘em to Scarsdale?  Bel Air?  Not enough room.

Perhaps they could send a bunch of them to the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana.  It’s 3,000 square miles so there’s lots of room.  And they could make new friends.  After all, with a population density of about 4 peeps to a square mile, folks already living out there must be plenty lonely.

"Nature Preserve"

dump truck toy

Harlem Childrens Dumping Zone?

Geoffrey Canada, the CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, spoke last week on Ted Talks.  I watched him.  He completely charmed me.  He was funny, self deprecating and I shared his pride during this interchange with John Legend:

John Legend: So what is the high school dropout rate at Harlem Children’s Zone?

Geoffrey Canada: Well, you know, John,100 percent of our kids graduated high school last year in my school.  A hundred percent of them went to college.This year’s seniors will have 100 percent graduating high school.Last I heard we had 93 percent accepted to college.We’d better get that other seven percent.So that’s just how this goes.

I loved his passion, commitment.  I loved that he created the “wrap around” services (health, mental health, nutrition, plus…) that starts with the birth of the child and continues all the way through college. BTW – wrap around services from birth are KEY for all Americans.  Invest in them now (!) and we create another great generation.   But I digress.

Yesterday, I read Gary Rubinstein’s Blog, “Teach For Us.”   And I crashed.  According to GR,  It seems that Mr. Canada had an unusual way of “achieving “100%” graduation rates:  he fired whole classes of students. Like the whole 9th grade end of 2007.  He also dumped an entire class of 6th graders in 2008.

Where’d they go?  My guess?  To a local public school, struggling to compete for federal, state and city resources that are going to charters like HCZ.   Oh well.  We’re only talking about a couple hundred little kids who, along with their families, had hopes of health food, excellent medical services, counseling…achieving the American dream.

Perhaps Mr. Canada has a credible explanation for dumping these kids…as well as the alleged complete turnover in teaching staff.  Geoff – is that true, too?   I didn’t hear you mention your love for your teachers, their passion, their creativity.

Maybe I missed it.