The US of A & the US of R

August 20, 2013

What are the similarities and differences between the United States of America and the United Soviet Republic? Let’s take a look.

Similarities:
Both spy on their citizens.
Both have mass incarceration.
Both have stop and frisk.
Siberia & Guantanamo.
Control of speech, religion, media.
Both seek universal domination.
KGB & CIA, FBI, NSA

Differences:
USA pretends to be free and democratic.
USSR does not pretend.
USA will hang Edward Snowden.
USSR will exploit his potential.

Progress has its limits. Is it ok to regress? To be continued.

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Our USA & Our Allies

August 19, 2013

We, as the greatest and best democracy in the whole wide world, step across the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans and cross the border South to spread our God fearing ideology to those regimes and dictators in need of a good example and a good way of life for those unfortunate souls crawling under their guns to live their oppressed lives.

America is the Messiah doing the good work of the Good God, but we have forgotten to take a good look at the company we keep. Didn’t some one say “let me see the company you keep and I’ll tell who you are”?

Well, let’s look at our friends and allies. Saudi Arabia. Kuwait. Bahrain. The Emirates. The military rulers in Egypt. Etc. I can’t believe these kings, emirs, rulers, oppressors, and suppressors of democracy, etc. etc. are America’s best friends. Man! Oh! Man! Do we need some new friends and allies or what?

Is this why we have no affordable health care? Free and comparative education to China and Finland? Affordable housing for the poor and homeless?

I wish my tax $$$ were not used to maintain these depraved and inhuman friendships.

I have been saying this for years. Politicians get themselves elected to political offices – congress, state, city, and local government – for one reason: to get rich!!!

The latest members of congress to prove this point are: Andy Barr, Ann Wagner & Tom Cotton (NY Times, 8-11-13).

They are newly elected, have been in Congress for six months and have collected more PAC money for their party (hundreds of thousands) than some old timers in Congress, e.g. Boner.

One wonders how much they collected under the table for their personal use, mansions, savings account, stock options, and future pensions. One also wonders how much time they actually spend on the problems of the people who elected them in their home states. Furthermore, do they have a conscience?

Congress people and other elected officials may be poor on Election Day, but they live rich ever after, and certainly don’t die poor, that’s for sure.

Politicians are cheats, swindlers, propagandists, robbers, crooks, liars, charlatans, con-artists, imposters, double-dealers, power hungry, greedy, dishonest, etc. etc. Show me an honest politician, and I’ll show you his mansion in hell.

They are dumb – because they have nothing in their heads (charlatans – they claim what they do not have), but they are smart – because they know how to swindle, fill their pockets, and get rich quick. They are adept at fooling the people.

From the looks of things, political heaven is right here on earth. Enjoy it all while you can you rich politicians. Poor people’s heaven is with God the Almighty.

An Easy Sixty-Five

August 16, 2013

The recent “grade inflation” scandal in the Hempstead School District reminded me of my experience in the “grading” business. At least these students were showing up in class. The following is an excerpt from my book The Other Side of Teaching.

Between September 13 and January 18, Max showed up perhaps twenty days out of ninety days of seat time for classroom instruction. He was failing. On January 25, his mother came to school to “meet the people.” After meeting the AP, the AP immediately arranged a meeting between Max’s mother, the subject teacher, and herself to try to “work” something out for Max.

At the beginning of the meeting with the English teacher, the mother asked for all the homework he had missed. The befuddled teacher asked if she meant all the homework he had missed for a particular day, week, or month. The mother said she wanted all the homework he had missed between September and January.

Teacher: “But that’s impossible.”
Mother: “Then give me as much as he needs to get a passing grade.”
Teacher: “But that’s impossible! Max has been in class twenty days since September.
He has not read a book, taken a test, written an essay, or even…”
Mother: “Look, you can try to help him…”
AP to
Teacher: “Tests aren’t everything.”
Teacher: “He hasn’t read the books. Since September, we have finished three books. We are on book four.
Even if I give Max all the work on one book, he still can’t do it because he didn’t read…”
AP: “How do you know he didn’t read the books?”
Mother: “My son loves to read. I’m sure he read those books.”
Teacher: “Okay! I’ll give Max the homework for the books. I’m not sure how I can get this done, but…”
AP: “Just give him homework for one book, the current book.”
Mother: “I’ll make sure he does it.”
Teacher: “Homework for the current book only? Where are we going with this?”
Mother: “You are the teacher. You have to help him pass his class. That’s your job.”
AP to
Teacher: “Look, we have to help him. Give him some work he can do in a week or so,
and then give him a grade.”
Teacher: “If you are asking me to give Max a passing grade for the semester, I can’t do that.”
AP to
Teacher: “Look, all I’m asking is for you to give this student some work;
just give him a chance. Yes, give him a passing grade.”
Teacher: “I can’t do that. I can’t give an absent student a grade of 65. Max lost a
semester’s worth of work. You as AP have the power to do what is necessary…”
Mother to
Teacher: “Ms. Blank, you are a hard woman…”
AP to
Teacher: “We have to be less rigid and try to help as many students as possible…”
Teacher: “I am willing to help my students, but I’m not willing to help them cheat.”
Mother: “Who’s cheating? Cheating? My son did not cheat! I can’t see why you’re making such a fuss.
His other teachers agreed to help him. You’re the only one giving us a hard time.”
AP to
Mother: “Look, Ms. Mother, I understand your concern. Ms. Blank is going to give you make-up work
for one book; make sure he does it…”
Teacher to
AP: “It will take at least two hours for me to locate and put together this material for Max.
I’ll go and do it right now, but I still won’t give Max a passing grade for 5 percent of
a semester’s work.”
Mother
To Teacher: “You’re a hard woman.”
AP to
Mother: [patting her arm] “We’ll see what we can do. The teachers are here to help.”

[Exit Teacher. Mother and AP hold hands and plan the death, destruction, and downfall of the unsuspecting and uncooperative teacher.]

The English teacher left to waste two hours of her time on three losers, the student, the mother, and the AP. After this tense and thrashing meeting, it was quite obvious that Max would be passing this English class. The mother and the AP are accomplices to cheating and corruption, the teacher is the bad guy, the AP is the hero, and the student wins the game.

Where was this concerned mother when her son was cutting classes?

This is New York City public education. This is No Child Left Behind. A student can stay home (or go who knows where) for five months, have his mother beg and berate the teacher, and the AP will make everything right. Sixty-five is the name of the game.

The following is an excerpt from my book The Other Side of Teaching.

It was Regents week. In between grades and preps, two teachers were talking and the words “boot camp in the gym” caught my attention. So, I started to listen and ask questions.

Apparently, at My School, there are make-up classes for students who are failing, for those who need credits to graduate, and for the “Long Term Absentees” (LTA) who need everything, and Boot Camp was created to meet this need. Under the NCLB law, the administration must give the failing students the opportunity to make-up failed or missed classes.

I had never heard of Boot Camp (BC) before, so I decided to ask some more questions. A few hours later, the story of BC unfolded in all its glorious and or gory details.

BC evolved from NCLB. Every child must pass every subject. No child can be left behind his age and grade level. In order to ensure that no child is left behind, a program called the Credit Recovery Program (CRP, I call it CRAP) came into being. At My School the CRP is fondly called Boot Camp.

In BC during Regents week, all the failures who desired to recover lost credit came to school and in five days were able to earn the credit for a semester’s worth of work. Isn’t this a great system? What a great president (George W. Bush) to produce this kind of education system to groom the future leaders of America. It is not important if they do not know where Iraq is or what H2o is. A semester’s work in chemistry can be completed in five half days and credit received to graduate! We did not leave them behind. We just left them out of a literate society. I wonder if BC graduates get more than a 65.

To think I wasted so much time sitting in those stupid classrooms when I was in high school when I could have done CRAP by going to BC. But wait – I could not have, because we had to actually do the work to earn the grade in those days. I hope these BC graduates do not come back as high school teachers! However, coming back as politicians or even as the president will suit them just fine.

What message are we sending to the grade school students in this country? Grade school is the setting where kids learn to read and write, where they learn about math, science, health, history, geography, nature, and yes, discipline, responsibility, ethics, respect and the principles to live their daily lives. It is bad enough that our politicians do not know where Africa is, and we have to teach our citizens to wash their hands when they go to the bathroom.

However, when students know that they can cut classes from September to January and go to Boot Camp for five half days and get the same credit as someone who sat in class for ninety days, the message is clear: there are no consequences. Five days are as good as ninety days. Stay home, cut classes, and just make it all up at Boot Camp. Education is not important anymore, and now we have NCLB, BC, and CRAP to prove it.

We are teaching them to be irresponsible, to have no accountability, and to laugh at the system. In plain English, students know education is a joke. Incidentally, the words he failed, or he is failing cannot, and must never be used for these students. Guidance counselors become hysterical if one even thinks about labeling students with these “negative” words.

Of course, we have supportive administrators whose only concern is to show the mayor and chancellor how well the school is doing and by extension giving everyone high grades and sixty-fives to students for not showing up. There must be a better way to prepare tomorrow’s citizens.

According to the news on August 8, 26% of the grade school students in NYC passed the English exam, and 30% passed the math exam. This is really surprising news. After all, the current mayor worked for almost twelve years to raise education standards and improve the NYC school system. Cathy Block can substantiate this claim.

Well, it seems as if nothing has changed for the better. The mayor just stagnated education progress for over ten years; closed schools unnecessarily instead of helping them to become better; gave his friends charters; battered and abused teachers (he should be stopped, frisked, questioned and charged with battery and assault); and has democratically dictated policies detrimental to the kids of NYC.

If anyone doubts this statement, just look at how parents and children, teachers and students are eagerly anticipating changes in November, and the end to autocratic rule in NYC Schools.

After eleven and a half years and no improvement in test scores, it is obvious that the top down policy and the autocratic rule are not working. Let’s hope the next mayor is taking notes.

Here are two questions we need answers for:

Who is doing the teaching? Who is writing the test?

Here are three teachers’ comments after the test results were published:

– We are not allowed to give grades below 55 between September and April, so we can give grades of 65 in June.

– We have not had a salary increase since 2009, Teachers Choice money has almost disappeared, and administrators treat us like outcasts begging for handouts.

– Everything is the teachers’ fault. Whether people believe it not we are teaching to the test. These kids are not given an education. They are learning how to take tests. And if my job and salary depend on how many of my students pass, then 95% of them will pass. I’m not there to teach them. I’m there to pass them.

America Loves Wars

August 13, 2013

We love wars, don’t we?

Forget our history. Let’ just look at our current wars.

– War on terror (whatever that is).
– War on drugs.
– War on Black and Hispanic boys.
– War on Iraqis.
– War on Afghans.
– War by droning Pakistanis and Yemenis.
– War on Mexicans re-entering what used to be their part of the country.
– War on Muslims worldwide.
– War on Egyptians.
– War on Syrians.
– War on the world via surveillance and spying on Americans and the citizens of the world.
– War by Republicans on the Black President who had the gall to be elected!
– War on the environment.

God have mercy on us, but for a country as moral as this one, we do love genocide, annihilation, mass incarceration, torture, and every other evil under the sun. Is this country going to hell?

Here are some wars I would like to see:
– War on hunger. – War on poverty. – War on disease.
– War on inequality. – War on illiteracy. – War on crime (not the white kill black variety*)
– War on the 1% who are oppressing and stifling and choking the lives out of the 99%.

Now, these wars would make sense.

*Travon Martin, Raymond Herisse, Israel Hernandez – Florida, Ramarly Graham – New York.

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