September 2009 Archives

Growing up in New York City presented many challenges but one of them was not dealing with snakes. I fear snakes. The very word snake elicits a creepy, tingling sensation around my ankles. But what benign synonym do I substitute for snake? "Hey, look at that serpent crawling toward our tent." No, I am not writing a blog about snakes or ophiophobia. The focus of my blog is about the poor condition of some of our nation's schools. Snakes just happened to literally slither into the story. I am standing outside a two-story wood frame building that leans to the ...

I am sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial scraping an Italian ice with a wooden spoon. I find myself here almost every time I visit our nation's capital. The city has many beautiful monuments and each is unique in purpose and meaning to visitors. The war memorials command reverence and can make a grown man cry, visitors gasp while looking up at the Washington Monument, and although only a few people can find the Jefferson Memorial on the first try, there is no more beautiful place to be during the cherry blossom season. But the memorial to the ...

While purported to be a blessing the ancient Chinese proverb "May you live in interesting times" may be a curse. Teachers certainly live in interesting times but we are plague with much turmoil in our professional lives. The seemingly endless discussion about designing national standards is one of the many inflictions cast upon teachers. I have been traveling extensively throughout the United States listening to academics, government officials, and policy makers talk about the need to implement a set of academic standards that will best serve the needs of over 60 million students. The goal is to homogenize 50 state ...

Some people want bad things to happen. It’s a quirk peculiar to smart and not so bright people alike and probably has some unclear purpose in the human genome. On the evening of December 31st, 1999, I was assigned to help police the crowds gathering at Times Square to welcome the New Year. A few hours separated the relative calm I was experiencing and the Y2K nightmare certain pundits claimed would occur when the clock struck midnight. A middle age man wearing a shirt that read HUMPTY DUMPTY WAS PUSHED asked me if the NYPD was prepared for the ...

I cannot seem to leave the Bronx behind me. My New York accent and a deviated septum are beginning to make me feel like a pilgrim in my native land. It seems that almost everywhere I speak children ask, “Where are you from?” Southerners are particularly sensitive to the tone and cadence of my voice. A young boy in Alabama listened to me order a burger and fries in a fast food restaurant and then remarked, “Y’all talk funny.” Y’all? I realize the National Teacher of the Year should be able to recite Dixie and The Battle Hymn ...

I last visited the White House in the summer of 1968. Richard Millhouse Nixon was president and I remember a lot of people with long hair and colorful clothes shouting in the direction of the president’s home. My father told me these people were called “hippies” and they were protesting the Vietnam War. “Why here?” I asked my dad. He replied that hippies had a lot of time to travel and protest, and often go to places like Washington, D.C. “Do they work?” “No,” my father answered. I thought being a hippy was a pretty good lifestyle, with ...


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