Category Archives: Baseball

2019 Medley #2

N.J. Charters, “Bible Literacy” Courses,
Teacher Shortage, Kg Readiness,
IN General Assembly, L.A. Strike, Vouchers, Science Facts, Happy Birthday Jackie Robinson!

FALSE PROMISES

Broken Promises: Camden’s “Renaissance” Charter Schools

We keep looking for ways to fix public schools, but it’s just as important for us look for ways to fix inequity and poverty. Our schools are just a mirror, reflecting the societal conditions our policy-makers, and we the voters, are unable or unwilling to correct. Until we focus on the source of the problem — that some people are given rights and privileges denied to others — we’ll continue to fail.

[emphasis in original]

Students who enter charter school lotteries are not equivalent to students who don’t. Plenty of research backs this up (see the lit review in this paper for a good summary of this research). Combine this with the high attrition rates in many “successful” charters, and the high suspension rates at many more, and you have a system designed to separate students by critical family characteristics that do not show up in student enrollment data.

…It’s important to note that the Camden City Public Schools do not have the luxury of setting caps on enrollments, deciding which grades to serve, or not enrolling students who move in after the kindergarten year. Everyone in Camden must get a seat at a CCPS school. But only a lucky subset of students get to attend a renaissance school.

 

“BIBLE LITERACY” COURSES

The Threat Behind Public School ‘Bible Literacy’ Courses

Not all of America’s public school students are Christian. Not all Christians in the United States use the same translation of The Bible. When we try to include religious texts in school we run up against the problem of whose version of the text to use, which religious texts should be included, and which religions or sects to include. Teachers who teach such courses need to be well-versed in the law making sure they don’t express a preference for one religion, sect, religious text, or version of a religious text over another.

This is one of the reasons that the First Amendment separates church from state. Madison, the author of the first amendment, grew to recognize the need for the separation of church and state through…

…his own personal experiences in Virginia, where Anglicanism was the officially established creed and any attempt to spread another religion in public could lead to a jail term.

Early in 1774, Madison learned that several Baptist preachers were behind bars in a nearby county for public preaching. On Jan. 24, an enraged Madison wrote to his friend William Bradford in Philadelphia about the situation…Madison wrote. “This vexes me the most of anything whatever. There are at this time in the adjacent County not less than 5 or 6 well meaning men in close Gaol [jail] for publishing their religious Sentiments which in the main are very orthodox. I have neither the patience to hear talk or think anything relative to this matter, for I have squabbled and scolded abused and ridiculed so long about it, to so little purpose that I am without common patience. So I leave you to pity me and pray for Liberty of Conscience to revive among us.”

The current crop of Bible-in-public-school bills does nothing more than attempt to inject religion into public schools. Indiana State Senator Dennis Kruse, in his bill, SB 373, makes it especially plain that this is his goal since his bill adds “creation science” into the mix.

Often, these courses are just a cover to bring a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible into public schools. Essentially, they’re Sunday School lessons masquerading as legitimate instruction.

…Let’s not be misled: Barton, the backers of Project Blitz and other far-right groups behind this new push aren’t interested in truly objective classes about the Bible in public schools. They want classes that indoctrinate children in a specific religious perspective – theirs.

NO TEACHER SHORTAGE

There Is No Teacher Shortage

This post by Peter Greene (the first of two in here) explains that the teacher shortage is the result of stagnant working conditions and lack of respect for teachers.

For almost twenty years (at least) the profession has been insulted and downgraded. Reformy idea after reformy idea has been based on the notion that teachers can’t be trusted, that teachers can’t do their job, that teachers won’t do their jobs unless threatened. Teachers have been straining to lift the huge weight of education, and instead of showing up to help, wave after wave of policy maker, politician and wealthy dilettante have shown up to holler, “What’s wrong with you, slacker! Let me tell you how it’s supposed to be done.” And in the meantime, teachers have seen their job defined down to Get These Kids Ready For A Bad Standardized Test.

And pay has stagnated or, in some states, been inching backwards. And not just pay, but financial support for schools themselves so that teachers must not only make do with low pay, but they must also make do with bare bones support for their workplace.

And because we’ve been doing this for two decades, every single person who could be a potential new teacher has grown up thinking that this constant disrespect, this job of glorified clerk and test prep guide, is the normal status quo for a teacher.

 

KINDERGARTEN READINESS MAY NOT MEAN WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS

MD: Failing Five Year Olds

When I began teaching my first class of third graders (after a half year of teaching kindergarten) I discovered that the achievement range of my 38 students was much larger than I had imagined. Some students were reading several years above grade level, and some were reading one or two years below grade level. One student in particular, John*, was reading at a pre-primer level. In retrospect it was plain that this child was a candidate for special education, but, as a first-year teacher in a system with minimal provisions for special needs children (at least at that time), I was responsible for figuring out what to do to help him learn to read.

What should a teacher do with a child reading at a pre-primer level in third grade? I decided that I would do the same for him as I did for the students who were reading several grade levels above average. I would provide material at his level. That meant that John wouldn’t be exposed to grade-level reading material. In other words, I changed the curriculum to fit his needs, rather than make a futile attempt to force him into a curriculum in which he would fail, become frustrated, and learn to hate reading. The latter is what many schools have forced teachers to do since No Child Left Behind.

* not his real name

…it is not a five year old’s job to be ready for kindergarten– it is kindergarten’s job to be ready for the five year olds. If a test shows that the majority of littles are not “ready” for your kindergarten program, then the littles are not the problem– your kindergarten, or maybe your readiness test, is the problem…if you still think that children raised in poor families have “too many” needs, then maybe start asking how you can ameliorate the problems of poverty that are getting in the way.

NO VOTER INPUT FOR EDUCATION POLICY IN INDIANA

Bill gives governor unusual power over schools

I wrote about a related issue in this bill last week. This bill, should it become law, would mean that the State Superintendent of Public Instruction would be an appointed position beginning in 2021, rather than a position voted on by the citizens. Since members of the State Board of Education are also appointed, the voters will have no direct input in the state’s education policy except through the governor.

Governor Holcomb will be the one to appoint the Secretary of Education which means that of the eleven members of the SBOE, nine will be appointed by the Governor and one each by the Speaker of the House, and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate.

With HB 1005, Indiana would become one of 15 states where the governor appoints the chief state school officer. The most common procedure – used in 21 states — is for the state board of education to appoint the chief state school officer.

Indiana’s governor appoints members of the state board of education; so, with approval of the bill, the governor will control both the setting and administering of education policy.

In states where the governor appoints the chief state school officer, the governor has total power to appoint state board members in only Iowa, Maine, New Jersey and Virginia. In other states, board members are elected; or they are chosen by the governor but confirmed by the legislature.

The House approved the measure Thursday by a vote of 70-29, with most of the yes votes coming from Republicans and most of the no votes from Democrats. It rejected a Democratic-sponsored amendment to require the secretary of education to have experience in education.

L.A. TEACHERS STRIKE FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Los Angeles teachers went on strike for our schools – and the country

Americans still prioritize now over future. We have cut funding for public schools through actual reductions and through the transference of tax funds from public schools to charter and voucher schools. Indiana, for example, paid $154 million to school voucher schools. The actual cost of charter schools is much more difficult to find, but a Duke University study of charters’ impact on North Carolina schools determined that

…charter school growth results in a “large and negative fiscal impact” on the districts evaluated.

and

…the findings are consistent with previous studies and show that charter growth generally results in a lower quality of education for students who remain in a district’s traditional public schools.

The Los Angeles teachers who went on strike earlier this month didn’t strike only for more pay and benefits. They were offered a 6% increase before the strike. They accepted a 6% increase to end the strike. What they gained were improvements to the learning conditions of the students in the form of lowered class sizes and much-needed wraparound services.

It was clear, however, that part of the problem with funding in Los Angeles and California, as well as in other parts of the country, is that money is being diverted from public schools to privately run charter schools. States can’t afford to support multiple school systems.

We believe every student, however challenged, ought to have access to success. And we know that in our classes with more than 40 students, there are often five or 10 with special needs and another 10 or 15 still learning English as a second language while as many as half or two-thirds are homeless or in foster care or in a continual state of crisis. Students collapse in class from hunger and stress and fatigue and depression.

Overcrowded classrooms are a brutal expression that our students don’t matter. They are someone else’s kids – and all too often they are no one’s kids. No one except the dedicated teachers who every day give a damn about them. And we’re going to keep giving a damn and hope that one day those in power give a damn.

 

ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL

Side effects in education: Winners and losers in school voucher programs

One size does not fit all. Some teaching methods work for some children, other methods work for other students. Some schools are better for some students, other schools are better for others.

Think about this in terms of the evaluation of teachers, for example. Teacher A might be able to help student A, who is homeless, adjust to school, while Teacher B may not. But Teacher B’s classes usually have higher test scores. If you were the parent of student A which teacher would you want for your child?

As much as we might want to seek a perfect solution for all students, one student’s medicine may very well be another one’s poison. As students’ characteristics and education treatments interact, negative side effects may occur. Funding private schools with public dollars probably does not affect all students positively in a uniform fashion. To date, studies of school voucher programs have found their effects to vary among different populations of students.

Moreover, besides the side effects resulting from the interactions between students’ characteristics and education treatments, side effects also occur because of the broad range of desirable and potentially competing education outcomes. So far, evidence of the effects of voucher programs has been limited to a narrow set of outcomes such as academic achievement. Little, if any, empirical evidence has been collected concerning other equally important outcomes of schooling, such as preparing students for civic engagement and betterment of a shared society (Abowitz & Stitzlein, 2018; Labaree, 2018). Thus, we do not know their effects, negative or positive, on other important outcomes. It is, however, reasonable to believe that voucher programs and other forms of privatization of education can have negative side effects on individual students, the public school system, and the society (Labaree, 2018).

A WARNING

The most disturbing news yet

I recently saw a discussion on social media where someone stated…

“Science is facts. Theory is not yet science.”

After a quick facepalm, I responded with the article, “Just a Theory”: 7 Misused Science Words. This didn’t work, of course, because the person in question had been “educated” at a “Bible Institute.” He was obviously mistaught basic science concepts.

This is what we are up against. When the effects of climate change are no longer deniable, these same people will, at that point, point to “god” and claim we are being punished for allowing gay marriage, transgender soldiers, unisex bathrooms, or some such nonsense. Until that time, they will go along with the right-wing talking point denying climate change claiming it’s just a conspiracy to get more money for scientists.

In the meantime, there are places where insects are disappearing and the entire food chain is at risk. Those places shouldn’t be taken as exceptions, but rather as warnings.

“I don’t think most people have a systems view of the natural world,” he said. “But it’s all connected and when the invertebrates are declining the entire food web is going to suffer and degrade. It is a system-wide effect.”

…We are part of a complex web of interdependencies, and it’s also a non-linear dynamical system. There’s a word for when parts of such a system show a pattern of failure: it’s called catastrophe. By the time you notice it, it’s too late to stop it.

JACKIE ROBINSON – JANUARY 31, 1919

Tomorrow is Jackie Robinson’s 100th birthday.

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” — Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson Tribute: Baseball Hall of Fame.

📚📝📖

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…Respect me as a human being

Today is Jackie Robinson’s 99th birthday.

“A life is not important except for the impact it has on other lives.”

“I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me. All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.”

QUOTES

Eulogy For Jackie Robinson/Steal Away (Piano) · Rev. Jesse Jackson
From Baseball A Film By Ken Burns – Original Soundtrack Recording

Today we must balance the tears of sorrow with the tears of joy. Mix the bitter with the sweet in death and life. Jackie as a figure in history was a rock in the water, creating concentric circles and ripples of new possibility. He was medicine. He was immunized by God from catching the diseases that he fought. The Lord’s arms of protection enabled him to go through dangers seen and unseen, and he had the capacity to wear glory with grace. Jackie’s body was a temple of God. An instrument of peace. We would watch him disappear into nothingness and stand back as spectators, and watch the suffering from afar. The mercy of God intercepted this process Tuesday and permitted him to steal away home, where referees are out of place, and only the supreme judge of the universe speaks.

Henry Aaron on Jackie Robinson…

I told my father when I grew up I was going to be a pilot. You know what he said? He said, “Ain’t no colored pilots.” So I told him I’d be a ballplayer. And he said, “Ain’t no colored ballplayers.” There were a lot of things blacks couldn’t be back then. There weren’t any colored pilots. There weren’t any colored ballplayers in the major leagues. So it was hard to have those dreams. Then Jackie came with the Brooklyn Dodgers to Mobile for an exhibition game in 1948. I went to hear him talk to a crowd in front of a drugstore. I skipped school to meet Jackie Robinson. If it were on videotape, you’d probably see me standing there with my mouth wide open. I don’t remember what he said. It didn’t matter what he said. He was standing there. My father took me to see Jackie play in that exhibition game. After that day, he never told me ever again that I couldn’t be a ballplayer. I was allowed to dream after that.

LINKS

VIDEO

Biography:

Jackie Robinson interviewed on Dick Cavett Show

Clip from Baseball A Film By Ken Burns

From MLB April 15, 2013

Trailer for the movie, “42” starring Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford.

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Blogoversary #11: A Review

Today this blog begins its twelfth year (See NOTE, here). It would have been nice to be able to write a post on how American public school advocates have overcome the forces of so-called “education reform.”

Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened. The privatizers are still doing damage and spending their billions to turn public schools into charters. They’re still working to divert funds for public education into vouchers.

So instead, of a victory post, here is a short clip from each September that this blog has been in existence from September 2006 through September 2016.

On beyond thirty…

September 14, 2006

From my first post. Now, after 40 years, I am still fascinated by how humans learn…still volunteering in a local elementary school.

So here I am, now a part time pull-out reading specialist in a suburban/rural school in the midwest, still trying to figure out a better way to teach even after 30 years. I still find learning fascinating. It’s still hard for some children…easy for others…and I still want to know why.

“That” time of year…

September 10, 2007

It’s ten years since this post. Economic stratification and inequity is worse than ever. Test scores still reflect the income of the family.

Poverty, as the media is fond of saying, is no excuse. Gerald Bracey, educational researcher, replies that, true, poverty is not an excuse…it is a condition, just like gravity. “Gravity affects everything you do on the planet. So does poverty.”

All the Way with Pearl Jam

September 27, 2008

Sometimes I post non-education content. This song was for the Cubs. Last year they went “all the way.” #bucketlist

Duncan’s Background and Duncan’s Plans

September 6, 2009

*This quote is by Stephen Krashen…containing a quote by Susan Ohanian…

In her book, “Caught in the Middle: Nonstandard Kids Caught in a Killing Curriculum,” published in 2001, Susan Ohanian, an experienced and award-winning educator who has actually taught in public schools, pointed out that:

“The pattern of reform … has spread across the nation: Bring in someone who has never been involved in public education; proclaim that local administrators and teachers are lazy and stupid; use massive testing to force schools into curriculum compliance” (page x).

Since this passage was written, this pattern of reform has clearly spread to the highest levels.

Tenure and Unions

September 22, 2010

Indiana teachers no longer have due process as a job protection. Before 2011 tenure in Indiana guaranteed a teacher a hearing in front of an impartial party. No longer.

Tenure, they say, protects bad teachers. Unions support and protect the tenure system which, they say, gives teachers in K-12 a “job for life.” The only problem with that statement is that it’s wrong.

Tenure, as defined by these reformers and in turn, the general public who listens to them, does not exist. K-12 teachers who achieve tenure — or permanent status — do not have a job for life. According to Perry Zirkel, a professor of education and law at Lehigh University’s School of Education,

Tenure is no more than a legal commitment (set by the state and negotiated union contracts) to procedural due process, ensuring notice and providing a hearing for generally accepted reasons for termination, such as incompetency, insubordination, and immorality.

Tenure’s primary purpose is economic job security, tied to the otherwise uncompetitive pay in comparison to other professions; however, tenure is not a lifetime guarantee.

Why Are SAT Scores So Low?

September 23, 2011

Here’s something which the corporate “reformers” don’t like to talk about. The higher the family income, the better the children do on SAT tests. Take a look at this…

Which Future Awaits our Grandchildren?

September 7, 2012

The shame of the nation, as Jonathan Kozol put it, is still the number of American children who live in poverty.

We don’t have to write off nearly a quarter of our children to poverty. I wrote a few days ago,

What other nation would accept a poverty rate of almost a quarter of its children?

I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine any other of the world’s wealthy nations allowing that to continue. The United States is among the world leaders in child poverty — We should be ashamed of ourselves.

Play is More Important Than Tests

September 9, 2013

Sadly, kindergarten is the new first grade.

I remember when the “abuse of testing craze” started a couple of decades ago…that was when we were required to use “research-based instruction.” A group of us got together and found a research basis for everything we did. Every teacher in our school system needed to be ready to justify what they did based on research.

Later, (2002) the US Department of Education started the What Works Clearinghouse so teachers could find teaching techniques and methods which were (supposedly) supported by research.

But now the truth has come out…when research goes against what the “reformers” want it’s ignored…or denied.

Retention Wars: Blaming Children

September 25, 2014

More than a dozen states, including Indiana punish third grade children — 8 and 9 year olds — for low reading achievement by forcing them to repeat third grade. Retention in grade doesn’t work…and we have known it for decades.

In the past, parents, teachers, and administrators used to make the decision to retain a student in his current grade. Now it’s state legislatures, governors, and departments of education. We have allowed the wrong people — politicians and policy makers — to determine the academic placement of our children using the wrong kinds of tests in the wrong kinds of ways.

Teacher Shortage? When All Else Fails Blame the Union

September 18, 2015

…”Reform” is the status quo in Indiana. Indiana is a state where public schools are closed so charters can open, where bankrupt charters are forgiven their taxpayer-funded loans, where an A-F school ranking system is manipulated for the benefit of political donors, where vouchers are available with only minor restrictions, where teachers are evaluated based on student test scores because testing is overused and misused, where teachers no longer have due process rights, where untrained or poorly trained non-educators can walk into a classroom and start teaching with minimal oversight, where the Governor and members of the State Board of Education blatantly prefer privatization over public schools

#%@! Adults Should Quit Punishing Children

September 7, 2016

Retention in grade doesn’t help children. It merely shows how adults have failed children.

FLORIDA STILL REQUIRES THE PUNISHMENT OF 8 AND 9 YEAR OLDS

…as does Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington. Other states – Colorado, Maryland, Oklahoma, Virginia, West Virginia – encourage it, though it’s not required. Different hoops are needed to avoid it in various states. See K-3 Quality: Is there a third grade retention policy?

These states and Florida, demand retention in grade of third graders for not learning quickly enough, or not being able to pass a standardized reading test. Retention in grade isn’t remediation. Retention in grade punishes children for the failures of adults.

*All quotes are my words unless otherwise noted.

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Food for Thought

A collection of memes and cartoons from around the internet about public education.

BASEBALL

The national metaphor for hope…a new season.

MARCH MADNESS

No, not basketball – the Indiana General Assembly.

We’re in the midst of the annual attempt by “reformers” in Indiana to

  • extend the misuse and overuse standardized testing
  • expand the voucher program
  • increase funds to charter schools
  • decrease funds to public schools
  • deprofessionalize teachers
  • bust the teachers union

Winners: private and privately run schools, corporate donors, Republican campaign war chests.

Losers: Indiana public school students and their teachers, public school corporations, the future of Indiana.

IMPROVE THE GARDEN, DON’T PLOW IT OVER

Repair our public schools and the neighborhoods they occupy. Don’t close them.

STANDARDIZATION

Teachers are required to differentiate curriculum because all children are different, but give a standardized test which all children have to pass.

FOR THE PUBLIC GOOD

Have We Lost Sight of the Promise of Public Schools?

If there is hope for a renewal of our belief in public institutions and a common good, it may reside in the public schools. Nine of 10 children attend one, a rate of participation that few, if any, other public bodies can claim, and schools, as segregated as many are, remain one of the few institutions where Americans of different classes and races mix. The vast multiracial, socioeconomically diverse defense of public schools that DeVos set off may show that we have not yet given up on the ideals of the public — and on ourselves.

TESTING

Now that we know better can we just stop the overuse and misuse of standardized tests? How many instructional hours are wasted for teachers, support staff, and students?

POLITICS

Nothing new for Indiana…

VOUCHERS

A voucher vs. public school comparison.

🎯🎯🎯

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Filed under 1000 Words, Baseball, IN Gen.Assembly, Politics, Public Ed, Testing, Trump, vouchers

Baseball Interlude: Random Thoughts: Cubs Win!

IT’S “NEXT YEAR”

I saw my first professional baseball game at Wrigley Field in the summer of 1956 – or maybe it was ’55…or ’57 – in any case, it was sometime in the mid 50’s. Ernie Banks was a newcomer, having joined the team in 1953 after playing professional baseball with the Kansas City Monarchs. Ron Santo, Billy Williams, and Ferguson Jenkins were teenagers still in high school. Ryne Sandberg and Greg Maddux hadn’t been born yet.

I watched games after school. I got on the ‘el’ after high school and rode to Wrigley. I followed the team in the newspaper when I didn’t have TV or radio access. I joined the Die-Hard Cubs Fan Club in the 80s…and the Cubs Club when the former morphed into the latter.

Here, then, are some random thoughts on an occasion I always hoped to see. The Cubs have won the National League Pennant. “Next year” is now.

  • In 1969 I was in college and only followed the Cubs in the newspaper (IDS). There were TVs in the dorm (I even had a roommate with a TV for a while), but that was before cable or satellite and WGN didn’t broadcast to Bloomington, Indiana. I’m glad I didn’t see that season on TV or in person. It was too painful.
  • My dad saw (or more likely listened to) the Cubs win the National League in 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938, and 1945, but never saw a World Championship. I was born three years after the Cubs’ last trip to the World Series.
  • All the years the Cubs were in the post season for the National league pennant…and came up short…1984, 1989, 1998, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2015…”Wait till next year!”
  • “So the Cubs haven’t won a pennant in nearly forty years. Why not look at it this way? Take it in terms of eternity. That’s not even a fly speck. Just tell yourself that sometime in the next thousand years the Cubs will get their share of the pie.” – Jack Brickhouse*
  • Since 1876, and before 2016, the Cubs have won two World Series, sixteen National League pennants, and six division championships. The last pennant win (until last night) was 1945. The last World Series win was 1908.
  • Hey! Peanuts! Cubs peanuts here!
  • “I have always been an optimist and even though sometimes you lose more than you win with that type of attitude, still and all there are enough great moments, thrills and excitement to make it all beautiful. You know that tomorrow will be a better day.” – Jack Brickhouse*
  • When Dexter Fowler walks to the plate in the top of the first inning in Cleveland on Tuesday, October 25, he will be the first African-American in a Cubs uniform ever to play in a World Series.
  • For decades I’ve said that all I want is a National League Pennant…even if they lost in the World Series. Now that the Cubs have finally won a National League Pennant, a World Series win would be nice…
  • Baseball is the perfect metaphor for life. Some teams, often those with the most money, win more times than others. But money doesn’t always buy success just like money doesn’t buy happiness. For that, you have to rely on family and friends (teamwork), hard work, a positive attitude, and some luck. Getting knocked down doesn’t make one weak. Strength is better measured by the ability to get up after being knocked down. Courage is not the opposite of fear…it is being afraid, yet still persevering in the face of certain defeat. A hero isn’t the one who wins the game, but the one who keeps swinging till the final out.
“Don’t let anyone say that it’s just a game
For I’ve seen other teams and it’s never the same
When you’re born in Chicago you’re blessed and you’re healed
The first time you walk into Wrigley Field
…Someday we’ll go all the way, yeah, someday we’ll go all the way” – Eddie Vedder
  • Perseverance. Perseverance. Perseverance.
  • “Cub fans will take winning in stride. With enthusiasm, with tears of joy, perhaps, but in stride…When it happens you will find us, like our ancestors in 1908, sensitive enough to know how to be humble in the face of a miracle.” – Jim Langford*

THE TWO GREATEST CUB FANS IN HISTORY

I wish you could have been here to see this…

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*from The Cub Fan’s Guide to Life by Jim Langford.

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Random Thoughts on the Occasion of My 10th Blogoversary

…which is tomorrow.

[NOTE: This is not my “main blog.” You’ll find that at http://bloom-at.blogspot.com. I began this “mirror” blog in January of 2013, a full 7 years after I started blogging at Blogger.]

Here are some random thoughts about learning, education, and other things…with a few quotes sprinkled throughout. FWIW…

  • “Lazy” students are most likely students who have given up. If there’s one argument in favor of investing more in early-child education and early intervention, then this is it. It’s much easier to keep a child going with successful experiences than to get a child to “restart” after they have failed and given up.
  • Misbehavior is often a cover up for academic difficulties. It’s much easier to choose to be a behavior problem than it is to accept that learning is difficult and risk being labeled as “stupid.”
  • Despite the chronological gap between the students I taught in 1975-1976 and the students I taught in 2015-2016, the needs of the children were the same. They wanted – and want – to learn, to be accepted for who they are, and to be loved.
  • Reflective teachers never stop learning. I have never considered myself a “master teacher” because I recognize my own inabilities and weaknesses. I don’t believe that I ever “mastered” teaching. Each day there were things I could have done better.
  • “…it is the struggle itself that is most important…It does not matter that we will never reach our ultimate goal. The effort yields its own rewards…” – Data in The Offspring
  • Criticism is worthwhile. Ask trusted colleagues for it, then accept it and use it to improve.
  • “For years we’ve been told from Wall Street entrepreneurs that we don’t need more money for these inner-city schools, we just need the same management techniques that they use on Wall Street. They say, “You can’t throw money at this problem.” But they are the ones who pull their kids out of the public school system and put them in Exeter and Andover, which now costs about $50,000 a year, or the people who live in the rich suburbs who spend $24,000 on their public schools, almost twice as much as children in New York. They say you can’t throw money at the problem, but I say it seems to work for their kids.” – Jonathan Kozol An Interview with Educator and Activist Jonathan Kozol
  • Every student can learn. However, expecting that every student will learn the same thing, at the same time, and in the same way, is unreasonable. Human beings don’t grow on a set schedule. We all didn’t learn to walk on the 3,000 day of life and not everyone will learn to read in First Grade Kindergarten. Those who expect uniformity in child development should stay out of the classroom. Those who demand uniformity in student achievement should keep their policies out of public education. Students are not widgets. Education is not a business.
  • Every student is different. The strength of a classroom is in the diversity of its students. One way for humans to outgrow the damaging tribalism which has been responsible for most of the wars in human history is to bring together our children to play and learn.  We should celebrate and encourage infinite diversity in infinite combinations.
  • “When people have said ‘poverty is no excuse,’ my response has been, ‘Yes, you’re right. Poverty is not an excuse. It’s a condition. It’s like gravity. Gravity affects everything you do on the planet. So does poverty.'” – Gerald Bracey, Parents, Poverty and Achieving in School
  • It’s well established that children need a safe place in order to learn. No one can learn if they’re afraid. The same goes for the adults in school. Teachers need a safe place to teach. Bullies don’t belong in the classroom, the school office, or the central office.
  • Things I miss in today’s schools: cursive writing, typewriters, card catalogues, and paper based reference materials (aka World Book Encyclopedia).
  • “Cub fans will take winning in stride. With enthusiasm, with tears of joy, perhaps, but in stride…When it happens you will find us, like our ancestors in 1908, sensitive enough to know how to be humble in the face of a miracle.” – Jim Langford in The Cub Fan’s Guide to Life, 1984
  • “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children…It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades.” – 1983 Commission on Reading. Reading aloud is more important than standardized tests, test-prep, work sheets, homework, book reports, flash cards…
  • Teachers, you won’t be able to “finally get caught up” until the end of the school year. There’s too much to do and not enough time to do it. Until a better way comes to American education, teachers will have to accept that fact and prioritize.
  • Teachers, there won’t be enough money for public education until the American people, through their leaders, give it a higher priority. It’s the future of the nation. Public school students are the future leaders of the country. We’re a nation of selfish, shortsighted people only thinking about “mine” and “now.” We need to invest in our future…in public education.
  • If you retain a student in grade you’re increasing to 60% the chance that he will drop out. Obviously no teacher can force a student to learn, but we need to reach students before they fail. Students need early intervention, wraparound services, and attention to the causes of their learning problems, rather than the reaction of retention. Policy makers can help by funding Pre-K education, early intervention programs, and support services. Which child isn’t worth the money?
  • “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’” – Isaac Asimov
  • My first students are now adults in their late 40s. I can see how they impact the community. Teachers, quite literally, have the future of the nation in their classrooms. Today’s difficult student might one day make a contribution to national defense, the national economy, or an advancement in medicine.
  • “History has proved again and again that whenever mankind interferes with a less-developed civilization, no matter how well intentioned that interference might be, the results are invariably disastrous.” – Picard in Symbiosis
  • One’s skill as a teacher, while important, is secondary to one’s ability to understand and relate to children. My greatest successes as a teacher were with those students whose hearts I was able to touch. My greatest failure – and one stands out more than all the rest – was with the student I couldn’t reach because I couldn’t relate to him.
  • Technology is not “the answer.” It’s a tool. The same goes for educational trends like…brain training, phonics vs. whole language, multi-graded classrooms, project-based learning, and new math. Those techniques and concepts, and others like them, might be helpful for some students some times, but they are just tools. I’m more and more convinced that the “answer” is found in the relationship between teacher and student.
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Baseball Interlude: No Foreigners Allowed?

Tis the season, it seems, for anti-immigrant fear mongering.

Phyllis Schlafly, the great-granddaughter of a European immigrant who lived in Canada before coming to the US, wants to ban foreigners from playing on U.S. professional baseball teams.

When I first saw that I thought it was a joke…an article from the Onion. But no. It’s no joke. Schlafly, whose great-grandfather emigrated to the United States from Scotland, wants to ban all foreigners from playing professional baseball in the U.S.

Why?

THEY CAN’T SPEAK ENGLISH AND ARE STEALING JOBS

First, because they

cannot speak English

Should we deny people jobs because they can’t speak English?  Perhaps Ms. Schlafly has forgotten that this country was taken from the natives – who didn’t speak English – and then built by immigrants – many of whom didn’t speak English.

A good portion of the food Schlafly puts into her anti-immigrant mouth every day was likely picked and processed by people who don’t speak English.

And what about stealing jobs? Does Schlafly make sure that everything she puts on her native born body or into her home is manufactured by native born Americans, in American factories, owned by Americans? What about her cell phone? What about the computer she uses to write her poison? What about the car she drives, the TV she watches, the microwave in which she heats up her coffee.

The hypocrisy takes my breath away…

LITTLE LEAGUE GRADUATES

Second, we shouldn’t allow foreigners to play baseball because they

did not rise through the ranks of Little League

I didn’t make this up. She actually wrote this.

Yes, it’s true that Little League baseball was started in the US in 1939, but as of 2016 Little League International supports baseball for children in 80 countries around the world including places rarely associated with baseball such as Uganda and Turkey. So, saying that no foreign born player has risen through the ranks of Little League is very likely untrue, especially those who hail from the baseball rich cultures of the Dominican Republic, Venezuala, Mexico, and Japan.

And…what? Little League is now a prerequisite for playing professional baseball? Where did all the pre 1939 baseball players come from? Where did Honas Wagner play Little League? What about Christy Matthewson? Was Three-finger Brown a pitcher in Little League before he lost parts of two fingers in a farm implement accident?

Just to be sure I’ll check the article to make sure it’s not from the Onion…

NO GIRLS NEED APPLY

Third,

Baseball is a wonderful activity for boys and young men.

If you are going to write about Little League and baseball, you ought to know something about it. Little league (unlike organized, professional baseball) is not gender exclusive. Girls are actually allowed to play baseball with boys. In fact, a girl, Mo’ne Davis of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pitched a shut out – a two-hitter – during the Little League World Series in 2014.

I wonder…if Mo’ne Davis decides to pursue a career in professional baseball would Schlafly approve because she’s an American, and came up through the ranks of Little League.

AMERICANS ARE BETTER?

Fourth,

All six of the six recipients of the top awards this past season are native born American, but more than a quarter of Major League Baseball players are foreign-born

Yes, I knew that all six of the six recipients of the top awards in 2015 (MVP, Rookie of the Year, and Cy Young) are native born Americans.

Past winners, however, include Dominicans, Cubans, Venezualans, Canadians, Mexicans, and Japanese. True baseball fans recognize names of stars like Albert Pujols, Miguel Tajeda, José Abreu, José Fernandez, Miguel Cabrera, Félix Hernández, Joey Votto, and Ichiro Suzuki. Cherry picking one year of award winners does not mean that all the players descended from immigrants are better than all the players who are immigrants.

BASEBALL, HOT DOGS, AND APPLE PIE

Let’s just carry this a step further. Does Ms. Schlafly want us to ban all foreign born workers from getting paid for jobs in the U.S.? How about actors? Should we keep them from working on movies or TV programs made in the U.S.? Should we ban all foreign born writers? all foreign born musicians? Why single out baseball players…let’s ban all foreign born professional basketball players, soccer players, tennis players, hockey players. Think of all the jobs that could go to Americans!

But baseball, and other sports, reflect the fact that the United States is a nation of immigrants. The anti-immigrant/false patriotism spouted by bigots like Schlafly has no place in any professional sport in this country. Indeed, it has no place at all in our nation.

In the best tradition of this nation, immigrants like the players mentioned in the paragraphs above, come to the U.S. to improve their lives, just like Schlafly’s Great-Grandfather Stewart did when he came to the U.S. in 1851 from Scotland. If the U.S. had Schlafly’s no-foreigners-allowed policy back then, chances are Phyllis Schlafly would have grown up as a Canadian.

IT’S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL

We live in a smaller world than humans of the past. National boundaries are not corporate boundaries. Goods and services are mobile. Even those things “Made in USA” are likely to have foreign parts.

People, too, are more mobile than before. It doesn’t take 2 months to sail from Europe to North America any more. We’ve seen the Earth from space…national boundaries aren’t visible.

Sooner or later people are going to have to accept that all of us live together on one, small planet.

Which is the more “American” policy? Locking our door in fear of the stranger, or welcoming the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free?”

It’s time we outgrew our antiquated tribalism.

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