Archive | December, 2012

Never Say Never!

12 Dec

Well here it comes: 12/12/12…

The 12th of Never!

So to all of you who once said, “Not until the Twelfth of Never!”

Here it is!

Your big chance to  pay out, collect up or break it off.

It’s now or…


And starting on the 13th, you can once again safely make those “Twelfth of Never” promises anytime during the year…with an option for 99 more.

A Teacher’s Guide to Marriage and Love

10 Dec


           We all know that public school isn’t just about learning. Mostly it’s about love isn’t it? It’s mostly learning until about the 5th grade and then middle school and puberty strikes in all its glory with its boobs and behinds and tight jeans, and your brain has little room any more for concentration on the moot and mundane, and your quest for sex, romance and the finding of that one person who will always love you (and who is not your mother) begins.

            For the middle and high school teacher this is a sickening process to watch. Boy meets girl. Boy meets another girl. Cat fight! Did you know that the word catfight actually means a fight between two girls and not a fight between two cats? But I digress…

Once a boy came running into my class completely out of breath and with a big grin on his face. “I just saw two girls fighting in the hall! He said. Man, they were really going at it! They fought so hard they actually fought right out of their clothes!” and he summed it all up with, “Today was the greatest day of my life!” We all looked at him in disbelief and just sighed, wishing we’d all been there to see it too…but I digress again…

            Ahhh love…but ask any student and they’ll always say, “Yes, someday I do plan on getting married. And predictably, most do. And then just as predictably they mostly always undo.

            So here, after 33 years of observation in the wild, is my foolproof guide to choosing the correct mate…or at least one who, for you, will last.

            When you think that you have found the right girl or boy, woman or man, don’t just date them, date their parents! Yes, that’s right. Go out with their parents. Visit their home and stay there, with them, for a while. If, after a few days you find yourself saying, “Hey, I like these folks. They’re nice. I could live here.” Then you’ve found the right man/woman for you. But if you find yourself saying, “Holy mother of god! These people are crazy! They fight all the time. I’m nervous here. I’m anxious here. I have no idea why they put their cat in the dishwasher! I want to go home…and then if you turn to your BF/GF and he/she looks at you and says, “Don’t worry; those are just my parents, not me!” THEN RUN! RUN INTO THE NIGHT AND DON’T LOOK BACK BECAUSE, that’s the kind of home you’re gonna get. You have just seen the future and you WILL be that family someday, so RUN! (By the way, the same can be said about you. You will try your best to re-create your family experience too)

            Of course no life advice is fool proof, but just in case you ignore the warning signs and stay in your relationship anyway and your new family life turns out just as I have predicted… Always remember: Protect the head! Put your helmets on!

10 Dec

A must read and just another example of how and why the rich keep getting richer. Money, not benevolence, makes money and with the help of the government it’s practically guaranteed.

Cloaking Inequity


With nearly 1,000 hits and counting, my post “Why do hedge fund ADORE charters?” was surprisingly popular. One of the issues raised by commenters on the post was the New Markets Tax Credit. It has been discussed elsewhere (here and here). We thought we would add more hard numbers to the discussion. This post was written in collaboration with Lindsay Butterfield, an EPP masters student at UT-Austin. The post is based on her final presentation in my Fall 2012 School Law and Policy course. Disclosure: As I have mentioned previously, I was an instructor at Aspire’s East Palo Alto charter and I currently sit on the board of the UT-Austin charter school. This insider view on charters has inspired research that shows that not all is well in the direction of the choice movement.

Show Me the Money: Sample of Private Investment, Advocacy Groups, and Charters

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Follow Your Bliss

8 Dec

Follow Your Bliss

After 33 years of experience as a teacher, this is the best advice that I have to give to any student, or person, for that matter…          

Follow your bliss!

What makes you happy? What are you drawn to? What do you see yourself doing in your dreams? (And for you movie lovers out there) What completes you? (But it should not be another person. We’re talking about YOU remember?)

The late author and mythologist, Joseph Campbell, wrote, “Follow your bliss and doors will open for you” and I believe this is true.

We should direct our students and children to what their aptitudes are not for what WE want for them or for them to be, to complete US.

Happiness is the thing! Happiness is the key. All of us who are older and who have been around for a while all now want the same thing. We want to be happy. We want to pursue and be around those people and things and activities that make us smile and feel joy. We would trade everything we have and everything that we’ve accumulated for happiness.

So we should direct our children towards that which brings them joy; that which fills their heart with a love of life, whatever it may be. There can be no substitutes. When we make substitutes and sacrifices, when we say that this “isn’t what I want but it will do”, when we make decisions based on compromises we close that door little by little until it seems as though there is no turning back.

But I will say this to anyone at any age. It’s never too late to turn around and open that door and follow the path that is right for you. The door is always there and it’s always open, even if just a crack. It never locks.

How would you follow your bliss? Take a moment, put your feet up, sit back, relax and think about it.

 Do it now! Happiness awaits!

7 Dec

Because I am from New Jersey and spent 33 years teaching in its public schools this post was very interesting to me. It also represents a trend that began during the last few years of my career, that being a misrepresentation of the facts about teaching, learning and schools.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Julia Sass Rubin, a professor of public policy in New Jersey, took a close look at the CREDO study of charter schools and made a startling discovery: the press release misrepresents the findings of the study.

It recognized the dramatic demographic differences between the students in public schools and in charter schools (“the traditional public schools it looked at served four and a half times as many students with Limited English Proficiency and one and a half times as many special-needs students as did the charter schools”) but ignored the severity of students’ disability or language difficulty.

This is an excerpt from her longer analysis. Rubin wrote:

“The CREDO press release claimed that “New Jersey charter public schools significantly outperform their district school peers.” However, this is not even remotely what the CREDO study found.

“First, the CREDO study looked at only about half of New Jersey’s charter schools (46…

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Every Teacher Has a Mom…Doesn’t (S)he?

6 Dec

      Some of the best teachers are the ones you accidentally call mom. Remember them? They were the caring, smiling and friendly teachers in Kindergarten or First grade who genuinely seemed interested in you doing well in school and they would even help you tie your shoes or pull on your boots and zip up your jacket. That’s when you were most likely to say. “Thanks mom”, and then look embarrassed because she was your teacher and not your mom. And hopefully you had a mom at home who was also just as loving and nurturing.

Of course loving your child should be a no brainer. And I don’t mean just saying “I love my child”. Everyone says that. Words can not only be important but cheap too and a word like love has no meaning if it’s not backed up by loving actions and loving deeds and personal sacrifices.

Teachers know that children need a lot of things from their parents before they go to school but what kids need mostly is love. They especially need a mother’s love. A father’s love is important too but let’s face it, If your mother doesn’t like you, you’re pretty well going to have a troubled life, dad or no dad. (And I don’t mean “tough love” either. Tough love is love like tough steak is steak. One is still love and the other is still steak but you can take them both back because nobody wants that crap) Kids want and need (as do we all) tender love…and tender steak!

Unfortunately I have seen many teenage mothers during my 33 years of teaching and almost always it was their idea that having a child would mean that they would finally have someone who would love THEM. But babies learn love from their mothers. It doesn’t work in reverse.

All children know and are aware of whether or not they are the recipients of love by the time they reach school age. And that’s a knowledge that no teacher can help them unlearn… and trying to tell the child that “Sometimes love just skips a generation, darling” doesn’t work very well either. Kids are hip to crap even before they get to school…

And here is something else that we should be teaching to all children in schools everywhere, especially young women. Everyone needs to know that the single biggest indicator for poverty amongst women is childbirth. In other words, if a woman has a child in today’s world and today’s economy she faces the likelihood of spending the rest of her life living in poverty. And that statistic is a true one…you can Google it too.

            Women at the earliest age possible need to be taught that giving birth to a child is an extreme, difficult and costly responsibility that is unfortunately quite likely to fall completely upon her young shoulders. Whether we want to admit it or not, divorce is rising the charts with a bullet and single parenthood, of which women constitute 83% of all single parents, often leads to a life below the poverty line.

According to the most recent census, around 25% of single parent households live below the Federal poverty level. This is an alarmingly high number, since only about 15% of the entire United States population lives below the poverty level. So women need to be taught that if they are going to have a child they should be prepared and able to care for that child and themselves on their own and without the assistance of others because whether they are planning on it or not the odds are beginning to favor divorce, abandonment by the father, or some other calamity that no one ever counts on happening.

And how can women prepare themselves? Well, They can stay in school and get the best education possible and then get a good job, save their money, buy what they need to live a happy and fulfilling life and then consider giving birth to a child. Any other advice that they get on the subject will not be in their or their child’s future best interests and for whatever the reasons, that’s a cold hard and unfortunate fact of living in the 21st century… as it probably was in the 1st century too.



Let Girls Do It!

4 Dec

If we are going to talk about the subject of education, let’s get to the really important lesson that I believe we all need to learn when it comes to women, and that is: it may just be our women who will save the world! Women constitute the world’s largest minority. This is really quite amazing because their minority is so large, in fact… that it’s a majority… but apparently no one told women! So parents of America get to it! Explain to your daughters that they can lead our country and our planet to a better future for us all even without the help of men. It’s time to encourage and empower our daughters to not want to be like our sons but rather to remain who they are, the kinder, gentler, nurturing sex, and take power!

In public school settings, statistics have shown that girls do much better educationally when boys are not around. Why is that? For whatever reason, boys seem to make girls flat out crazier than girls seem to make boys. And boys and men should take note of this. Women actually do better without men! It’s a fact. And how do men do without women? Well, if there were beer and chips and something to watch on television we’d be just fine.

Beyond being in charge, making money, spending it all and sports, men don’t concern themselves with much else, but just imagine what would happen if we started putting women in charge of more things in this world…so sit back, relax, close your eyes and imagine this…

We let women go to school together, study hard, graduate, go on to get their advanced degrees and then put them in charge of everything! Here’s what I think would happen. We’d have no more wars. Governments might argue a lot and stop talking to each other for a time but can you actually see women organizing armies of other women to fight one another while spending all of their country’s money on weapons of mass destruction? I think we’d all have nicer shoes maybe, and more to eat and we’d most definitely have no third world countries. Put a women in charge of a third world country and their first order of business would be to clean all the shit up and at least make the place look presentable. Men are perfectly content with being the president of a shit hole as long as they have a nice palace to live in and the country’s sports teams are fairly decent.

And why is this? Why are men and women so different? Is it because we hale from different planets? Nah! Mostly it’s testosterone levels and the fact that men hit their heads a lot. Watch little boys. Mostly they run around and hit each other in the head while their parents look on and say things like,

“Oh well, he’s a real boy!”

or “Boys will be boys you know!”

or “Hit him again before he gets up you idiot!”

Then their parents are just as likely to sign them up for activities where grown up men organize them into groups where there is more head hitting to be done and ironically that’s when parents decide to start fitting their boys with protective helmets, after they’ve already gotten in all that head hitting during their formative years!

Honestly I think that it’s not so much that boys will be boys but rather that boys make boys…by smacking themselves silly! Girls don’t do this. Women don’t do this.

And here’s a little side note about helmets. They are supposed to protect the head in case the head comes in contact with some outside force. They are not supposed to invite more head hitting just to see if the damn thing works!  If women or girls put anything on their heads it’s a cute little hat that serves as an ornament. Boys get fitted with mind altering headgear that’s more often weaponized than it’s protective.

When will we learn that because women don’t hit their heads as often as men do, women simply know better. That’s why we should separate the boys from the girls and put the girls in charge. Then put protective helmets on the boys so that their brains get a chance to evolve unimpaired until we are all, both men and women, living on the same planet and working together towards peace, prosperity and a cleaner planet that looks nice in case company comes to visit.

Gods and Fastballs

2 Dec

I’m a Yankee fan… as in the New York Yankees but I have to admit that it’s getting hard for me to care about whether the Yankees do well or not these days. After all I’m not a kid any more and at the ripe old age of 57 it just feels embarrassing to root for a team of millionaires, with even wealthier millionaire owners and a top season ticket price that now eclipses what the average American worker earns in a year.

Andy Pettitte just signed a one year contract to pitch for the Yankees for 12 million dollars. Last year he started 12 games and he won 5 of them. At 1 million dollars per game that would mean that Andy Pettitte earns as much money in one start, perhaps 2 hours, (After all no one expects him to pitch all 9 innings any more…not that he ever did) as the average American worker earns in 25 years.

Wow! 2 hours work = 25 years of work. It’s hard to wrap one’s head around a statistic like that isn’t it? But after all Andy Pettitte is one of the best pitchers in baseball isn’t he? Actually no, he’s not. And at 40 years of age and having won only 5 games last year he’s not even close.

In fact, the minimum salary in major league baseball will rise this year to almost 500,000 dollars which means that the lowest paid player will earn in 3 years what the average American worker earns in a lifetime.

3 baseball years of playing = 1 average lifetime of working.

I won’t even mention meal money. If I did you’d probably cry like I am right now.

But it’s a free country and we live in a free market economy where workers earn what the free market can bear.

I just no longer can understand how the market can bear it or can even bear to look at it? How is it that the free market supports these salaries and ticket prices and why do average American wage earners pump money into sports and entertainment personalities and venues that must be crippling their ability to meet their own family’s needs?

How is it that In an age and civilization where we are still undecided on whether or not all citizens should have access to affordable healthcare or retirement benefits or well funded schools or decent places to live we are still so able and eager to sustain such frivolity and waste at our own expense?

Once upon a time Roman citizens turned their thumbs down and brought the anger of the gods upon the poor wretched souls who entertained them in their arenas… and now 2 thousand years later we shower cheers and applause upon the richest men who play among us and treat them as though they were our gods, with thumbs up in approval as we spy one another wearing their names on our backs as though if only we could be them then all would be right with the world.

Is it their wealth that makes the difference? What is it about wealth that we revere so much and destitution that we so revile?

The rich get richer because we make them richer while we get poorer and can’t seem to help ourselves.

Meanwhile our elected leaders who themselves can’t help but get richer with each election’s victory no matter how poor their constituents may be, debate and cat fight over whether or not the wealthiest individuals in our country can afford to be taxed at a higher rate without bringing the entire ass backwards society of ours down.

Can a nation’s wealthiest citizens who earn as much in one year as that nation’s average citizens earn in a lifetime afford to pay for that privilege at a higher tax rate?

It seems to me that shouldn’t be the question. The question should be: How can they afford not to? How can they afford to screw such a good thing up? Let’s face it most of us actually do revere them as gods! All they need to do is pony up a little  more of their chump change so we worshipers can have our medicaid and medicare and social security and 30 year mortgages and jobs with minimal healthcare.

Are the gods really gonna screw this one up?

Will A-Rod hit the fastball next year?



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