Saturday, February 17, 2018

This is Not America (Part 2)


     I'm probably very similar to many of you in that I'm outraged at another school shooting and Trump's non- stop asinine comments. Everyone is to blame except guns. There is plenty of blame to go around, but those killings wouldn't have happened without easy access to guns. (Some will scream about the Second Amendment. It was written when the US was a wilderness and we were fighting for survival on every front.) How do we stop them? Vote those that are endorsed by the NRA out of office. Demand gun control. In the mean time every high school and middle school should have metal detectors. Yeah, I know it doesn't look nice or feel nice, but look at the alternative. Trump is offering prayers - this from a guy who's admitted he doesn't  pray. Some conservative religious folk have been completely bamboozled by him. I seriously contemplate, at least once a week, if he's the anti-Christ that's written about in Revelations. I think there's an 80% chance he is. The more I see and hear him, the more I'm convinced. He uses many of the same strategies as Hitler did - deny media reports and then attack them. He's given new life to extremist groups that perceive a friendly face in office. A president that refers to predominantly Black or Latino countries as shit holes. People have already pushed aside those remarks because everyday is a new opportunity for him to get you to forget the last outrage he has uttered -  a box of food instead of food stamps, build a wall around Mexico, he's 'totally' against whatever his employees have been accused of, the list goes on and on. The only guy almost as repugnant as Trump is his puppet Sessions.

   The time has come for a bipartisan push to get Trump out of office. He is profoundly hurting our country.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Repost : 1/19/15 Martin Luther King Jr Day

Monday, January 19, 2015

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

I always look forward to a day off - usually not contemplating the reason for the day. I looked at MLK's tombstone today and realized he was only 39 years old when he was killed. It caused me to think about the nature of martyrs. How many have given their lives for a cause? Many. How many are unwilling to give their lives for anything? Many more.
How about speaking out against injustice? "Well, I guess so, if it's not too troublesome and might be considered cool." Where to start? Start with those closest to you. You, your family and your students. How can you go march for ideals in society and ignore the plight of those in front of you? Do you spend time with your kids? Are you willing to spend your own time helping a struggling student? Do you look down your nose at those less fortunate than you? Did you vote for the last contract, even though it discriminates against the rights of your colleagues? None of us are perfect, but I believe as teachers we should hold ourselves to a higher ideal. I certainly am not considered a teacher any longer, (he's the sub), but I try to maintain my dignity under very undignified circumstances.
So on this MLK Day, I'm going to try to persevere as he did.

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

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Where's My Pizza?

Where the heck is the quail?! I'm starving!

     You may be surprised that I'm probably one of the few people in NY that don't like pizza (or bagels). I find it revolting  from the cheese to the dough. Then there's eating it with your hands - grease everywhere. No thanks. I wasn't surprised the UFT spent over a 100K on many fattening  delights It was for the underlings. Quail, caviar and steak for the ruling class. How about the rank and file? Where's my pizza? Yeah, I know the greasy pie has been thrown in every ATR's face with the line, 'You're lucky to have a job'. Keep the pizza and start representing all of us fairly. Enjoy the quail.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Happy New Year

     I spent today reading poetry, listening to Philip Glass and Blossom Dearie, watching Koyaanisqatsi for the first time in twenty years and then having dinner with my daughter. I couldn't ask for a better day. The first poem I read was by Langston Hughes called 'Let America Be America Again'.
    I wish everyone happiness in the New Year.


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Fight Injustice

Sorry gramps. Drive a school bus or something.

          I didn't leave the house today. I was freezing my keister off in Poughkeepsie and reading about one of my ex-students who has become a minor celebrity in Europe. Then I started thinking about all my other students, many who have become very successful. Some of them I still stay in contact with. It's a wonderful feeling to be thanked and recognized for a former student's success. When I was in most of my former schools, where I was permanently appointed, I was treated with respect. I throughly enjoyed teaching. This is very different than the reality I currently find myself. Twenty four year old teachers are snapping orders at me, (they are happy there's at least one person lower on the totem pole than themselves). I have to explain in a around about way that I have been teaching longer than they have been alive. I don't say it like that, but thankfully I look a little younger than I am and usually become friendly with these teachers. I do everything I can to help them. Its still a humiliating circumstance to find oneself in during the waning years of one's career. The kids constantly tell me 'to shut the fuck up or suck their dick' because I’m not a real teacher. The union rep is often friendly, but of little to no help. They often don't know the rules and could potentially create more problems than solve them.

      It's in this context I also read with interest that there may be a class action suit, if there is enough interest from ATR’s concerning age discrimination. ATR‘s are overwhelmingly over 50 years old, are at the higher echelons of the pay scale and are the most experienced teachers (20 plus years) in the system. We have come mostly from closing schools and are branded as subpar humanoids. We have been shuffled from school to school for random amounts of time to sub. Being a substitute teacher is not something I want to do. I have two Masters degrees and whenever I was offered coverages as a teacher I turned them down. I turned them down because kids always regarded these classes as playtime and were apt to act the fool even if they knew the teacher. Imagine how it is when they don't know you and assume you are a sub, there for the day. We are frequently denied access to restrooms, staff lounges, and basic human courtesies - including many that most teachers take for granted. If we complain to the UFT we are told we are lucky to have a job. Many of us are treated with undisguised distain. Many of us teach about fighting injustices in the world, but if we allow injustices to be thrown on our own shoulders without doing anything to fight it, we deserve what we get. Does this suit have any merit? When ATRs were offered a buyout last June, one of the requirements was to sign a waiver not to sue. That in and of itself should give you an adequate answer. Our union had filed such a suit on our behalf  and dropped it. I have never heard a satisfactory explanation as to why. If you are an ATR you have a obligation to yourself. By that I mean, you as an individual have rights and should not be treated in such an obviously humiliating, illegal and disgraceful manner simply because of your age, pay scale and experience. 

     Here's the link

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Back to Black

      The the UFT is crying in their fine Pilsner beer at the thought of Carmen retiring. The rest of us are popping champagne corks. Why is there such a disconnect between the UFT and the rank and file? The UFT and Mike, in particular, were reinvigorated at the the prospect of a former educator without Bloomberg as mayor. They were so happy and eager to show that they were not the pugilistic union that the media and public made them out to be, they agreed to everything and anything that was introduced in negotiations (before they even began). Carmen was incredibly pleased, as was the mayor - the rest of us not so much. The 2014 contract was an incredibly bad joke from the raises that weren't to the discriminatory provisions against ATRs. Then we have cellphones, four observations, hundreds of principals (that Carmen said shouldn't be leading schools), fair student funding, no discipline policy and legions of lawyers ready to pick the bones clean of any accused teacher. This is under a chancellor who is seen as sympathetic to the UFT. Do you want another chancellor that's sympathetic to the UFT? I don't. I want Cathie Black back or someone equally as antagonist towards the UFT. (This person wouldn't have the eviseration powers of Klein because he or she would be tempered by DeBlasio.) This chancellor could wake the UFT from its sleep walking route toward a cliff called Janus.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. ( Carmen, good luck in the future, you played the UFT - I don't blame you.)