Friday, January 24, 2020

Repost - 3/19/15, ‘The Laments of Atlas’

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Laments of Atlas 

Harry: Atlas, give me your take on schools, kids and anything else you feel like talking about.

Atlas: Sure. I think kids and people are basically the same as they always have been.

Harry: What?! I was never like these kids!

Atlas: Sure you were, but you had a mother and maybe a father who would kick your ass if you got out of line. When I was in school the teachers would kick our ass, then we'd go home and get another beating. Now the kids are beating up the teacher and the parent is coming in to finish the job.

Harry: Yes, it's true. But, their slovenly appearance, obscene music, lack of manners!

Atlas: Come on, you still dress like a slob! You still listen to Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin. And when was the last time you treated a student like a person?

Harry: Atlas, you go to far! Fortunately, I have a tough skin and forgive you. So, you think things are the same as when we were kids?!

Atlas: No. Parents are disenfranchised from the schools. Technology has made cruel behavior easier and less likely to be changed. Real consequences in schools are not immediately there for students. It is however, there upon entering society.

Harry: What can be done?

Atlas: The rights of the kids who want to learn should take precedence over those who don't. Basics should be brought back. Civility, penmanship, and home economics.

Harry: Seriously! You're nuts.

Atlas: Ask a kid to tell time from a clock. Ask him to sign his name. Ask him if he can cook a simple meal or do a load of wash. Ask him what he'd do if there was an old lady standing on the bus and he was sitting. You may be very surprised.

Harry: I have to begrudgingly agree with you. Society seems to getting worse and worse.

Atlas: The fall of the Roman Empire was more gradual than ours. The Dark Ages will return.

Harry: I think they're already here!

Monday, January 20, 2020

Repost - This is Not America

Saturday, January 13, 2018

This is Not America

   I always try to write something for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The older I get the more we seem to be reverting to some type of altered version of our ideal as a country. My niece told me it's the Mandela effect. Interesting concept that some of our shared memories of events have changed, ranging from Nelson Mandela to the Ford logo. A result from CERN, quantum computing or time travel. I can only hope I wake up tomorrow and Trump lost the election. It reminded me of how I felt when Regan cut most of the funding for the most vulnerable people in the Bronx. I had never seen whole families sleeping on subway trains until then.

                                                                This Is Not America
                                                                (David Bowie)
This is not America, (sha la la la la)
A little piece of you
The little peace in me
Will die (This is not a miracle)
For this is not America
Blossom fails to bloom this season
Promise not to stare
Too long (This is not America)
For this is not the miracle
There was a time
A storm that blew so pure
For this could be the biggest sky
And I could have the faintest idea
For this is not America
(Sha la la la la, sha la la la la, sha la la la la)
This is not America, no
This is not, (sha la la la la)
Snowman melting from the inside
Falcon spirals to the ground
(This could be the biggest sky)
So bloody red, tomorrow's clouds
A little piece of you
The little peace in me
Will die (This could be a miracle)
For this is not America

Friday, January 17, 2020

The Plight of the Newbie

     Many veteran teachers, and most ATRs rarely consider the plight of the newbie. The young guy or gal that replaced us when we were excessed and turned into babysitters for the sin of making too much money. Most balk at being with them in class and I understand that. It can be humiliating being seen as a ‘Sub’ with little or no education and experience by the brand new newbie and then being asked or sometimes told  (many young teachers are not big on manners or respecting those that have been continually identified as inferior - ATRs). I had my problems with a young 25 year old male teacher (with no teaching experience or Masters - I had 27 years teaching experience and 2 Masters) I was paired with for a year teaching afternoon physical education classes. I’m a licensed CTE teacher, so I didn’t mind taking direction in a field I knew very little about. From day one, he immediately started barking orders at me. I told him over and over again,  I’d be happy to help him, but he’d have to voice his bark in the form of a question. He eventually learned, but I often found myself slowly simmering. We grew to respect one other and even though he was young Black man, in the boogie down Bronx  - he was a lot Whiter than me. He came from a private high school, college and his parents were middle class professionals from an upscale neighborhood. I grew up in the Bronx, one of five kids from a single mother - everything was a struggle. This guy had a great work ethic. He also loved heavy metal music. The kids, especially the overaged entitled seniors, despised him. The stricter he got, the worse they got. They used to curse him out in the most profane manner - one kid actually pulled out his penis for a couple of seconds and told him to suck it. His AP wanted to know how the teacher caused that! The AP then started listening to the students complaints like they were gospel truth, documenting them and he started receiving ineffectives. He was now being cursed out continuously and with many kids flatly refusing to follow any of his directions. He did the only thing left to him, he started failing them. Effectively stopping them from graduating. That’s when it was really over for him. He then started getting continual observations.

    Now, it was towards the end of June and we had been together since September. We were working out with heavy weights frequently at lunchtime. To be honest, I started thinking of him as a nephew. He came to me for advice. In September, when he first signed up with the UFT he was a very proud, arrogant pain in the butt. He now told me he was very worried about getting an Ineffective. He asked me what to do - I told him he had to switch schools to save his career. That afternoon, I called the UFT and asked them to explain what protections they had for untenured teachers. ‘Well, we’re always here to guide them through the tenure process’ ;  I asked, ‘What workplace protections do they have?’ ; ‘The exact same as yours, sir’. Ok, that sounded good. ‘ So let me ask you, if my nephew comes in, smiles crooked and gets an ineffective - what do you guys do?’  ‘Sir, an ineffective means nothing - he’s going to have two more years, even if he gets an ineffective for this year, to pull it off. Stop worrying and tell your nephew to start kissing some ass.’ Nice, right? The newbies membership dollars at work.

      I must add, this was an excellent school with an adequate Chapter Leader, great principal and fantastic APO. It was a great place to finish out my career. Most of us only worry about ourselves, but these new teachers need guidance, career protections and stability. The UFT is wholly remiss in its duties toward these new teachers, even more so than it is towards its veterans and ATRs (at least we have some recourse).

     I believe this is a subtle design to ensure many new teachers do not get tenure. No big deal for the schools or the UFT. Always a new crop waiting to experience the joys of NYC. The newbies that require consequences and grade fairly, will not make it. Those that go along to get along are the only new teachers that have a marginal chance. None of them, however, will make it to retirement. Tier 6 makes that impossible. That’s for another post.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Bloomy is Ready to Take Your Jobs and Don’t Forget It!!!

      As most of you know I am no fan of Mike Bloomberg. He single-handedly did more to hurt public education than anyone before or after him in it’s long history here in New York City. There doesn’t seem to be too many Democrats that are aware of this, outside of New York City.  Many of my Jewish compatriots say I shouldn’t worry about any of this because as a Jew he doesn't have a chance of getting elected. I call Bullshit. Same as when they told me there was no way Trump could win. These same guys are saying Bernie can win. Last I looked, he’s Jewish too. Why are we even classifying candidates in this manner? Because our country has become so bigoted against every race and religion it’s the first thing people will notice or want to know. Disgusting - on so many levels. I’m getting off topic. The topic is Bloomberg.

   Does Bloomberg have a good chance of getting the Democratic nomination? You can bet on it. Not only the nomination, but garnishing many Independent and Republican votes after that nomination in the general election. People are tired of listening to a suited fraud that makes Archie Bunker look like a polished intellectual. The obvious assassination of an American enemy for political deflection hasn’t fooled anyone. It’s just another instance of presidential power being used for personal reasons and may hurt him much more than help. Regardless, he will not be removed from the White House but he has increased his chances of losing the election. All of this helps Bloomberg.

   Why should we care if Trump loses? Because Bloomberg may win. He appears a moderate to the typical Democrat and Republican. There are a lot more moderates  than those on the far right or left.  Bloomy is a guy who will gut unions, gut the middle class, elevate the 1% club, destroy public education and rule this country like he ruled NYC. He is a also a sexist and a racist - his apologies to Women and Blacks not withstanding. His self funded climate change stance and health care plans have endeared him to many Dems. His views on the privatization of public entities, trampling on unions (look at our once we’ll paid school bus drivers) and his atrocious business model for everything has endeared him to many Republicans - they view him as the embodiment of everything they wish for in Trump - sans the circumcision, of course.

   If not Trump or Bloomberg - who should it be? It was, is and should be Bernie. He’s gaining political ground, but many don’t want him to succeed and I truly believe the UFT/AFT and Democratic Party ( are such entities. His health policies will put the UFT welfare fund cronyism and misleading tales of the UFT paying our medical bills out of business. (I know there are some reading this now, shaking their heads and saying, ‘You mean they don’t?!)

   If Bernie doesn’t get the Democratic nomination, I’m taking to streets. I’m also writing the Democratic Party, and voicing my opinion on every venue possible and so should you. Stop sitting back trusting and expecting the UFT/AFT and your Democratic ‘representatives’ to do the right thing. They all do what’s right for themselves - make them understand that what’s best for us is what’s best for them, Demand it.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Another Year Over ...

   I can’t believe I’ve been retired over a year. It flew. I feel for my brothers and sisters left in hell. I also feel for all the students being cheated out of an education because of political/race correctness which always leads back to the almighty buck. The schools are unsafe, very little education is going on and NYC and its MTA are downright dangerous. Big Bill can pull as many statistics out of his posterior as he likes, but those with eyes can see. Enough of that. I’m happy to be out and hope the same for you, unless you are fortunate enough to be in a real school and yes, there are still a few around. Usually, the teachers there are all in their sixties and won’t retire, so you know just based on that they have to have a strong union presence - heck, some of those guys are bonafide 👍🏻 Chapter Leaders - not like the sniveling sycophants I came across during my long odyssey around the Bronx. I still haven’t rejoined the UFT because I haven’t seen any movement towards democracy in regard to anything. The ATR pool is still growing and ignored; new teachers can be fired over any large or trivial perception, Fair Student Funding is still in place and unchallenged, and retirees are regaled for their votes and money. I don’t foresee good things happening with the UFT, especially over their silence concerning massive grade fraud and school safety. I also think the newbies will stop paying dues until they become tenured - this may ensure some action from the UFT. I also believe more and more will opt out of paying dues as they watch ‘their’ union ignore principals (gone hog wild) while the UFT machas discuss and pass esoteric resolutions that wouldn’t be believed if they were on an SNL sketch. Oh well.

     I am blessed and want to thank G-d for saving a loved one’s life. Don’t believe anyone who tells you prayer doesn’t work. Prayer, faith and family should be paramount. I work a couple of days a week with high school seniors and try to help them as best I can. I also started working on a large project - that will take me a year or two to complete. It’s hard work, but also thrilling. I don’t know if anyone will like it, and I do care a little bit - but not much. It’s more for me. There was a time that teaching was the same. I enjoyed it and it always made me feel great. The kids learning was secondary and primary, if you know what I mean. The best teachers lose themselves in the process. There are decades I can barely remember as I was completely immersed in the joy of teaching.

   I wish everyone a wonderful new year. May G-d bless you, your families and your teaching or other endeavors. Be good to yourself. (Don’t turn into a divisive tech zombie.) Cheers.


Saturday, December 14, 2019

There are Statistics to be Upheld (Updated)

    I’ve been following the terrible story concerning Barnard student Tessa Majors.  It wasn’t a surprise to me that these were teenagers. It wasn’t a surprise to me that they had robbed numerous times previously. It wasn’t a surprise to me that the police refused to get involved because of their ‘age’.  Age being  the requisite keyword for race. The police are now very careful to the point of inaction. They have even let the second teen suspect out because they want more evidence. I guess his accomplice’s first hand eye witness account isn’t enough. The NYPD believe that in Bill deBlasio’s New York City, if you are a person of color, the cry of racism and police brutality can thwart your arrest, create a lawsuit and get any well intentioned cop in a whole lot of trouble. There are statistics to be upheld.

   How about these ‘kids’ schools and teachers? I’d bet my next retro check that those middle school students carried their knives daily to school, that there are no metal detectors and that they were hell to deal with. I’d also bet their teachers learned quickly to tolerate every outrage heaped on them from the deadly trio of Chuckies. Were there any mental health interventions done? You know the answer. Their teachers also know there are no more suspensions, they better not complain and better stay quiet even when personally assaulted. There are statistics to be upheld.

   How about the legal guardians of these possessed turds? Did they question their thirteen and fourteen year olds when they saw questionable behavior and money on their little darlings? One tenant, who lives in the arrested scholar’s building, said little Chucky was just a normal thirteen year old that chills out in front of his building and smokes pot. A few years ago Black middle aged men were getting searched and arrested for having a joint. Now thirteen year olds can stay in front of their buildings, smoke weed and no one says ‘boo’.

   This case is a tragedy. Tessa’s life was stolen by selfish, out of control teenagers. They became that way because they were no consequences enacted by their caretakers or even by those entrusted to uphold our laws.

   Bill deBlasio has had many good intentions, but he should never be allowed to hold public office again.

   May G-d bless Tessa Majors and her family.

Update ***The head the NYPD’s Sargent’s Union, Ed Mullins, has decided to deflect the mounting criticism that comes from the growing awareness that Tessa’s death could have been avoided, if the NYPD had done its job. Mullins is doing so by blaming the victim, Tessa, inferring she caused her own death by searching out marijuana for sale. This abject strategy is beyond repulsive.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

December 12, 2019

    I have been spending the last couple of months helping my daughter with her college applications. We spent one weekend recently at Columbia and Barnard. She’s completely enthralled with both. I opened the paper this morning and got physically ill. An eighteen year old Barnard freshman was beaten and killed probably over a cellphone. She could be my daughters twin and had most of the same interests - especially writing. I just can’t shake the image of that girl dying alone at the bottom of those cold dark stairs. DeBlasio made his usual pronouncements of an increased police presence and the well intentioned promise that this wouldn’t happen again.

How did it happen to begin with? Who are the individuals involved? What are their ages? Why were they (all?) armed with knives? If they are students in some NYCDOE high schools, were there warning signs? Are there metal detectors in their schools, or did these these individuals wear them in like a modern uniform? Were these individuals given consequences or free rein to do whatever they wanted? How did they do academically? How many times will society and innocents have to become victims to the indifference and benign neglect of public school systems, even after the student leaves the school system? In Florida, the families of Nicholas Cruz’ victims are suing the city, the school and all those who turned a blind eye to him. Time to start that in NYC.

G-d bless Tessa Majors and her family.