I've received some amazing responses emailed to me directly to my initial postings on the Huffington Post. Some of them are included here. There is a great posting on the site by one of Pablo Muriel's students. Everyone should read it. It would be great if teachers could have their students read the posts and join the debates. Pablo's government class has also started its own blog site.
T.G. -- I am Pablo's student at University Heights High School. I think this situation should be a wake up call to everyone who doesn't live in our society. Police harassment has become totally out of control there days and someone needs to bring attention to it. Personally, Pablo is a good man, an honest citizen and an intellectual that will not back down from speaking his mind. This situation has a lot of impact on what we speak about now in our Global/Government/Law Honors history class. We need change in our neighborhood and we don't have the education to help us ''take it to the next level'' like Pablo. I think we need to have an informatory speech that teaches us our rights and to helps us become better citizens.
Pablo Muriel -- My friend was released with all charges dropped. I have an interview with the civilian complaint review board and the discussion about the article prompted the my students to request a blog of their own in which we will discuss social issues in our country and community. One of the students designed the site and its up and running at http://www.participationingovclass.webs.com . Click on government watchdogs and read the post. Many people approached me Friday in Sedgwick and they are all angry because the situation is getting worst. They have requested I organize something to help the situation. If nothing comes out of my complaint, then I would gather petitions from everyone in Sedgwick Projects to demand that police step down their aggression towards the community and step up their protection for the civilians.
David Chin -- There are apparently standardized tests that pre-K students must now take. There's a big brouhaha over it and many parents are up-in-arms about the issue. The schools that accept funding from the DOE for pre-K feel they must comply to continue getting funding. The parents feel that testing 4 yrs old expecting "standardized" results will mislabel children.
Shaun Smath -- I teach at a transfer school [students dropped from regular high schools for poor attendance or low grades]. Over 90% of my students qualify for free lunch and many of them are coming to us with less than 20 high school credits and they are between the ages of 17 - 21. We are still expected to meet regular high school standards on Regents exams even though many of our students have not sat in a high school class in over a year, some of them have trouble writing a few sentences about themselves no less about the French Revolution. To boost scores my administration has changed my Global History class into a Global Regents Prep course where I teach from a Kaplan review book on how to take the test rather than working with these kids on simple mechanical deficiencies like reading and writing. The pressure has been placed on us as teachers just to boost Regents scores, they are completely missing the target here and forgetting that there are more important things these kids need than a 65 on a state exam, but at the end of the year fingers are pointed at the teachers. Its unfortunate considering all of the hard work that we put into the year.
School Discipline Codes
Annie Zirin -- Another way that the classroom is viewed by the powers that be as practice for the prison system of these children's future (or at least a third of them.)hey kids, get used to legalese, crime and punishment, and "zero tolerance" because those of you that don't keep in line and become good workers can join the grotesque percentage of Americans behind bars. Teach them young.... Have you watched this TV show "Raising the Bar" by the way? It's the most incredibly left wing thing I've seen on TV. It's basically Law and Order from the side of the public defenders, the working class, people of color. The "bad guys" are the cops, judges, and most of all the prosecuters and "the system."
Rozella Kirchgaessner -- We passed out the discipline code at a muster/assembly. Had the students each pick up one and a form they needed their parents to sign and return to their second period teacher. The AP security/guidance told them to take the document home, read it with their parents, discuss both the rights and responsibilities included, and ask a teacher or himself if a question arose. It was the healthiest approach to that annual notification I have seen yet. We are finally getting at least part of the message, after years of playing around with those canned lessons. It is the tenure and experience of the principal that determines how "mandatory" the instruction is.
Kamillah Dawkins -- My school district, like many districts across the nation, has implemented big cutbacks. Unfortunately co-curricular clubs are under some tight restraints. The former Director of Health and Physical Education tried to implement the "No cupcake and cookie" law at our building as well. As the student council advisor, I was against this due to the fact that bake and pizza sales are a major part of our fundraising for our annual out of state Student Council conference trip. I went ahead and arranged a cupcake sale (high in fat and sugar -- really delicious) and told the administrators that they were made from organic ingredients and the topping was a non-fat yogurt based frosting. Several of them made faces and refused to eat one. If they won't eat them, why would they think teenagers want to eat them? If they are going to place cutbacks on the clubs then they need to as the fictional Queen Marie Antoinette story goes "LET THEM EAT CAKE!"
Rozella Kirchgaessner -- The DOE will approve some vendors that must be used when food sales are allowed, and that schools may not purchase from other outside sources. It smells very foul to me. We have just gone through several recent shifts where money has been technically "given back to the schools" so that we may purchase vendor services that are higher, of course, than the funds returned to us, and then slashed. The funding of school equipment, the narrow contracts awarded to single vendors sound a whole lot like the "trusts" that Teddy Roosevelt fought at the turn of the last century. Who is complaining about that limitation of how our tax dollars are spent, and where is the oversight?
Anita Faulding -- I would love to see a decrease in the reliance on bake sales and candy sales in schools, but there are not many other options. In addition to the absurdity of implementing this in a time of severe budget cuts, this policy once again puts a greater burden on schools in poorer neighborhoods. Klein and Bloomberg will allow fund raising to hire extra staff and pay for arts education. There are schools where parents can raise hundreds of thousands of dollars without selling a single cookie. In schools like the one I work in, however, bake sales and candy sales are the one sure way to get some extra money (and it's never enough to hire extra aides). I guess it's time to dust off my poster--"It will be a great day when the schools have all the money they need, and the Pentagon has to run bake sales."