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Joel Shatzky
Joel Shatzky was born in Vancouver, Washington, in 1943 and grew up in the Bronx. He attended Music and Art High School (now LaGuardia), and Queens College, CUNY, later receiving an M.A. at the University of Chicago in 1965 and a Ph.D. in dramatic literature from NYU in 1970. He moved to upstate New York with his wife in 1968 and taught at SUNY, Cortland, for the next 37 years, retiring in 2005 as Professor Emeritus. He moved to NYC in 2006 and teaches as an adjunct professor at Kingsborough Community College, now completing his 50th year as a college teacher.

Shatzky lost his first wife, Dorothy, in 2004 and married Ilana Abramovitch in 2009. She is a college instructor in speech who teaches at Borough of Manhattan Community College. She is former manager of curriculum at the Museum for Jewish Heritage in NYC. Shatzky's son, Ben, is a lawyer and has a daughter, Sophia. Shatzky's daughter, Judy, has recently married and is a social worker in Brooklyn.

Shatzky has edited or written a dozen published books and has had a number of off-off-Broadway plays produced since his return to New York City. He plays jazz and classical piano.

In the recent past he contributed frequently to The Huffington Post under the title "Educating for Democracy" and is now resuming his column after a two-year hiatus.

Entries by Joel Shatzky

Educating for Democracy: Cutting Their Feet to Fit Your Shoes

(5) Comments | Posted October 1, 2015 | 9:42 PM

The most reliable measure of student achievement, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, recently reported that American students are woefully inadequate in a number of important areas of study such as civics and history. When one considers the importance of an "informed electorate" as conceived by the Founding Fathers, this...

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Educating for Democracy: Connecting the Dots

(0) Comments | Posted September 22, 2015 | 11:40 AM

The recent debates of the Republican Presidential candidates sadly suggested to me as an educator how unlikely it would be for the viewers and voters to separate fact from fiction. History, to many American students, has always been "a thing of the past." It's all a matter of connecting the...

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Educating for Democracy: The Age of Social Insecurity

(0) Comments | Posted September 2, 2015 | 11:47 PM

The Age of Social Insecurity

As an educator I have long believed, especially over the last fifteen years, that hidden within the public education policies of the Bush and Obama administrations is the proverb: "Insanity Is the New Normal." I feel that this is an appropriate phrase which...

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Educating for Democracy: The Age of Social Insecurity

(0) Comments | Posted September 2, 2015 | 11:46 PM

As an educator I have long believed, especially over the last fifteen years, that hidden within the public education policies of the Bush and Obama administrations is the proverb: "Insanity Is the New Normal." I feel that this is an appropriate phrase which accounts for the introduction, spread and dominance...

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Educating for Democracy: What If All Schools Were Charter

(2) Comments | Posted August 7, 2015 | 11:01 AM

There's a comment attributed to Einstein: "The sign of insanity is when you do the same thing over and over again and expect different results." I wonder what this eminent thinker would have to say about someone who not only repeats the same flawed procedure but then expands on it....

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Educating for Demoracy: A Lesson From Russia

(0) Comments | Posted July 25, 2015 | 8:00 PM

I recently saw a foreign film that was one of the most outspoken about government corruption since the days of Frank Capra. Ironically titled "The Fool," the story line is pretty straight-forward. A young, idealistic plumber discovers that due to a structural flaw in a low-income housing project, it is...

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Education for Democracy: "We Have Met the Enemy and They Are Us"

(1) Comments | Posted July 13, 2015 | 12:10 PM

Education for Democracy: "We Have Met the Enemy and They Are Us" -- "Legal" Segregation

As an educator who began my career when "busing" was the most controversial means of establishing integrated schools, I felt very self-righteous about white opposition to having their children bused from predominantly...

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Educating for Democracy: David Brooks' 'Magical Thinking'

(3) Comments | Posted July 3, 2015 | 1:07 PM

In a recent op ed in the New York Times, David Brooks made a plea to social conservatives; those who vowed to "fight on" against the Supreme Court decision sanctioning same sex marriages.
Brooks argues:

"The sexual revolution will not be undone anytime soon. The more practical struggle is...

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Educating for Democracy: Flag Banning and 'Magical Thinking'

(0) Comments | Posted June 29, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The recent massacre in an iconic Black church in Charleston, South Carolina could be the wake-up call this country needs in order to begin educating all Americans and those who wish to become citizens to acknowledge the importance of the question: why is racism such a blight on America and...

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Educating for Democracy: 'The Numbers Game'

(0) Comments | Posted June 12, 2015 | 10:22 PM

After hearing the "good news" of the high school graduation rate nationally -- over 81 percent -- I recalled a blog I wrote for Huffington Post four years ago.

A recent article in the New York Times (2/8) reveals that according to a report by the New York State...
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Educating for Democracy: Robert De Niro's Commencement Address and Mine

(0) Comments | Posted May 30, 2015 | 8:47 PM

Several days ago Robert De Niro, a great actor and sometime political activist startled the graduating class of the NYU Tisch School of the Arts by declaring "You're F****d!" De Niro was not talking about the sexual exuberance of the students who had become proficient in dance, music, film, writing...

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Educating for Democracy: The Rule of Law and the Law of the Rulers -- A Lesson for Memorial Day

(5) Comments | Posted May 24, 2015 | 4:34 PM

On the occasion of Memorial Day, I thought it appropriate to write about the importance of citizenship and the apparent contradictions between our ideals and the reality of living in what is supposed to be a democratic society ruled by law.

A few weeks ago I was disappointed to realize...

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Educating for Democracy: What Makes a 'Great Student'?

(1) Comments | Posted May 3, 2015 | 7:57 PM

There's a definite irony lurking behind the recent honoring of the national "Teacher of the Year," Shanna Peebles, by President Obama who received her as if she were a head of state. For when interviewed by Charlie Rose, Ms. Peebles reflected the kind of teaching that is antithetical to President...

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Educating for Democracy: The Educational Reform Hoax

(2) Comments | Posted April 14, 2015 | 4:58 PM

The sentencing to stiff prison terms yesterday of ten Atlanta educators for "racketeering" and the standardized testing going on in the schools of the state of New York today provide the perfect examples of what I've decided to call the educational reform hoax. The sentencing of the teachers and supervisors...

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Educating for Democracy: Collegiate Sports and March Madness

(1) Comments | Posted March 22, 2015 | 9:54 PM

The recent scandal involving Syracuse University's basketball team came as a personal
disappointment to me since I've followed Syracuse varsity sports for almost 40 years in upstate New York. It is an area where Syracuse University sports are the high-profile collegiate event. I taught at SUNY, Cortland which has...

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Homage to My Teachers

(1) Comments | Posted March 15, 2015 | 4:51 PM

The recent celebration of "International Women's Day" brought me back to the teachers of my childhood. With the never-ending conflicts arising out of "Education Reform," I thought it might be helpful if I were to recount my memories of some of my own grade school teachers of the 1950's.


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Is Teach for America Beginning to Lose Its Luster?

(10) Comments | Posted February 15, 2015 | 9:25 PM

A recent New York Times article -- "Fewer Top Graduates Want to Join Corps of Temporary Teachers" (2/6/2015) -- notes that the TFA program is "suddenly having recruitment problems." The article reveals that applications are down 10 percent but the consequence is that two of the eight summer training sites...

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Educating for Democracy: High School Graduation Rates and Critical Thinking

(1) Comments | Posted February 2, 2015 | 6:50 PM

President Obama's speech at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee, on Friday, Jan. 9, seemed to represent a serious effort to give greater opportunity to high school graduates to attend college even if they lack the funds. According to the Wall Street Journal:

The proposal ... is...
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Educating for Democracy: Words and Deeds

(0) Comments | Posted January 27, 2015 | 7:19 PM

Having recently read Governor Cuomo's State of the State address proposals for "education reform" I felt as if I was in an educational time warp. After my two-year absence from writing my blog, "Educating for Democracy," I re-read that last post I wrote on February 5, 2013 and...

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Educating for Democracy: What Do Grades Mean?

(4) Comments | Posted February 5, 2013 | 11:15 AM

Recently I asked my students in my writing course at Kingsborough Community College what motivated them to learn. As this is an evening course, most of them are in their 20s and 30s with full-time jobs, some with families, who are "credentialing" themselves for better jobs in what most see...

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