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"Show Me The Money"

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In the movie Jerry McGuire, football wide receiver Rod Tidwell demands that his agent, "Show me the money!" Some people who responded to recent blogs wanted me to provide more evidence to support my claims. Here it is.

Is Michael Bloomberg buying votes? You be the judge. According to the New York Times, since Mayor Moneybags has been in office, the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem and the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in Queens each received over seven million dollars in city contracts. In addition, Bloomberg gave personal donations of over $1,000,000 to Abyssinian Baptist. The pastors of both churches are prominent African-American men who are endorsing Bloomberg for reelection. I guess I did not ask Bloomberg for enough money when I offered to sell Mayor Moneybags my vote.

Will Arne Duncan bring a "revolution" to the way our schools operate? According to the same edition of the Times, based on his Chicago "experience" all we will get is more of the same. Duncan in Chicago and Bloomberg in New York believe in "Shake and Bake." Shake it up, close failing schools and reopen (bake) them with new names and somehow things will get better. It turns out that a University of Chicago research report showed that reading and math scores of students in failing schools actually declined because of the disruption in their education when schools were closed. While the study found students who transferred to more middle-class schools did perform better on standardized tests, students who transferred to similar schools with high concentrations of minority youth from poor families did just as poorly in school. What a surprise!

I have also received some more great responses from readers that were sent directly to me.

CUPCAKE WARS

Don Gilson-

I love the fact that at 5 year old your grandchildren have role models in their lives who care enough about them that they teach them how to stand up for themselves and fight back. Those are the lessons we should be teaching our students and children. I have been blessed with the unique opportunity to teach in inner-city schools and then come and get a "real" education at Hofstra at the young age of 53. I coach football and I am now able to ask my players, what are you comfortable doing? I no longer tell them we are going to do things a certain way. I ask them what they are comfortable playing? Now I am all for educating young men and women about eating right and living healthy lifestyles, Lord knows I can use some help and education on this topic myself!

However, I would prefer my politicians spent less time trying to dictate what should and should not be allowed, regarding cupcakes and cookies, and their sale and consumption in public schools, and more concerned about the injustices that befall many people who happen to be the in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and oh yeah, the wrong skin color, religion, or sexual orientation, etc. Maybe Mayor Bloomberg should redirect some of his money that is spent on commercials, trying to win an election that everyone already knows is already bought and paid for, I wonder if he had to bribe anyone with cookies and cupcakes, towards trying to really get to know and understand the students, that are his constituents, and that will some day lead the great City of New York.

I spent way too many years of my life thinking I knew what was best for everybody else and not enough time listening to what others had to say. The creator after all gave us two ears and only one mouth. There are worse things for students, whether living on Long Island, New Jersey, or in New York City, to be doing than eating cupcakes. If I knew at 5 years old, not 53, that my voice, along with my ability to listen, and my ability to speak out againist injustice, were of equal importance, well I can't even imagine how different my life would have been. Long live sugar!!!!!!!!!!

LEAVE THEM BACK!

Andra Milletta-

Another detestable aspect of the Mayor's retention policy, when it was first implemented, was his desire to hold back as many as 15,000 third graders simply because they scored a 1 out of 4 on either the state's LA or math test, when it was the first time in their lives they were taking such a high stakes test (and we know the quality of the test was poor). A friend of mine who is savvy in statistics pointed out that if he succeeded (and he didn't in holding back so many) he would create an artificial bump in the 4th graders' scores the following year, which would serve him well in his bid for reelection. This, more than just about anything, has made me so furious that I can't even stand the sight of his frog-like face on the cover of New York magazine this week.

By the way, at the time, my students teaching third grade (many of the NYCTFs) told me the principals were in such a panic about this policy that they were ordered to drop all regular instruction and just do Kaplan test prep in the weeks leading up to the test. Now our kids are living on a diet of Kaplan and Sylvan more than ever. It's a disgrace. Thanks for your great posts! Huffington lucked out.

Ann Tarantino-

When I was a little girl in grammar school, a boy who was left back (I remember him so well) was razzed, ridiculed and totally embarrassed by unconscionable, insensitive kids (and there were many) who didn't go with the "Do unto others" thing. As I am sure you know kids can be really mean and they were. My heart went out to this kid and I made sure to talk to him and be extra kind to him. What this school system needs is a curriculum that actually teaches human beings what it means to be human and to treat each other with respect. And I think you have to start with educating the parents, who are so out of control and so caught up with the wonder of their wonderful offsprings who are ----heads. Well, not all of them but, society has to definitely make a huge turn around for us to ever hope for a better world. It just seems so hopeless with all the ills of the world that we will ever see a bright future. Guess I am a little on the down side today. Sorry. Have a terrible ache in my jaw, that doesn't seem to want to get better even after I have had two teeth pulled that were supposedly causing the ache. Ah, sweet mystery of life. I like Mayor Moneybags - he only takes one dollar a year as salary.

BIZARRO BLOOMBERG

Mel Grizer -

How come the media (including Bizarro Bloomberg) almost totally overlooked Bloomberg's visit to the Orthodox & Chassidic community in Borough Park with that low life Giuliani to stir up some racial division and fear? Giuliani warned that if Bloomberg were not re-elected, the city would revert to the crime, fear and disorder including a pogrom that existed before the great savior, RG, came to power. Is this an implication that Thompson is cut from the same mold as Dinkins, the demon that Rudy vanquished? Bloomberg accomplished a few good lifestyle things: the smoking ban, trans-fat posting, calorie charts in fast food restaurants, bike lanes (mostly middle class oriented life style issues, although beneficial to everyone) and crime statistics remain low. However, "stop & frisk" police tactics based on racial profiles continued undiminished since Giuliani's time. NY leads the nation in the number of these stops. Bloomberg has also worked to diminish the racial polarization on the political level which was the hallmark of the Giuliani administration.

So why does he choose to go to Borough Park with Giuliani? He could have gone after those votes stressing what he considers to be his positive record. He has already stated that Giuliani would be a good governor. Of course rich Republican Bloomberg, could help build a campaign to replace an inept African American Governor with our hero, RG. History may just repeat itself.
P.S. The taxpayers could save some money by allowing the 2 Bernies (Madoff and Kerik) to share one cell for the next 150 years

DUNCAN/OBAMA AND SCHOOLS OF EDUCATION

Tarik Samuel -

I agree with the points you made and I feel as though educational training is hard to instill without first-hand experience. We could all study the philosophies of teaching or the psychology of children and still become lousy teachers without having that important experience. It is also the job of the parents to make the jobs of teachers easier by supporting their children and their education.

Joanne Gallipoli -

I do not believe that a "New Teacher to be" can possibly get the experience needed simply by reading books or observing in a diverse schools or student teaching for one semester. I have been a teaching assistant for 11 years now and I honestly feel this experience has prepared me better then most of my graduate courses. Don't get me wrong the combination of the classroom experience, coupled with my education has provided me with the latest techniques and theories and has prepared me even further. However, my real knowledge has come from being in the classroom. It has given me the opportunity to become familiar with the curriculum in various subjects. Additionally, working with a diverse number of teachers, has enabled me to learn different techniques of teaching. What works and what doesn't. One can reflect on the year and determine what teachers are effective and who's style you wish to avoid. I would not object to new teachers working 2 or more years as teaching assistants to gain that exposure before moving on to a teaching position. Secretary of Education Duncan has to make changes in order to justify his job as do most public officials.

Jack Zevin-

I applaud your letter, and I would like to sign on to the different revolution, too. But what can we do with this culture? They've been after us for a long time, and have been slowly creeping up on reducing the whole enterprise to a bottom line spread sheet. What is ironic is that an African American President and a Democrat is continuing Bush's policies and Duncan (who I recently heard give a canned pablum speech in DC) is sharpening his hatchet. But who knows, maybe this will set off some change, maybe we won't be the cash cows any more. That's the one line I agree with and wouldn't it be wonderful not to be mediocre but great successes like our military, our bankers, and our leaders!!!!! You have actually inspired me to start writing what my wife calls 'crank' letters (which I used to do all the time but have give up for the fabulous 90s/00s). More power to you, but I would love something practical to do. Where is the left? Where are educators with backbone? I have seen few, how about you?