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The Heaviest Lifter = Katherine Silva Lopez. She’s 17.

I just read this young lady, Katherine Silva Lopez’s story. It’s remarkable and to me, and to all the teachers who have had the privilege to welcome these kids into our classes, unremarkable. My ancestors did the heavy lifting for me and our family, as my cousin, psychotherapist Lynne Spevack noted. They fled pograms in Vilnius and the Ukraine. They traveled in danger and settled in squalor when they arrived here. I don’t know about you…but I NEED Katharine Silva Lopez to become successful in America. She is the one doing the heavy lifting for her descendants. I’ve lived a privileged life because of the courage and ambition of my ancestors. Let’s give her the same chance. After all, her daughter might be the next Sonia Sotomayor…right?

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Yes…I know…it’s the Post. Gotta keep an open mind, right?








PS: Coming soon: Yo Miz! (the book) with stories from kids like Ms. Lopez, in their own words!

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We Literally Know Everything About What You Know and How You Learn Best…Everything”

We literally know everything about what you know and how you learn best, everything,” These are the proud words of Jose Ferreira, CEO of Knewton, which is one of the top collectors of educational data about our children – an $8 billion industry.

His words are so comforting:  “We have five orders of magnitude more data about you than Google has,” he says in the video.  “We literally have more data about our students than any company has about anybody else about anything, and it’s not even close.”

Privacy?  That’s so 20th century.

Read all about it:


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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.

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“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.





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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