Sep 13

The Ideal Urban School

[This blog entry comes from an assignment in my Restructuring Urban Schools class -- the assignment was this: Write a three page paper describing your ideal urban school. This is my take on the assignment. Remember -- I only had three pages, so there's a lot missing here, I think.]

“Within these walls, we are governed by the laws of loving-kindness.” In college, I had a professor who started his class with this statement. He knew he couldn’t control the way people treated one another in the outside world, but within his class, he asked us all to live by the tenets of loving-kindness. This was not a course I wanted to take – it was a required course of the English department for all English majors. But in the end, I looked forward to his class every day and I was very sad when it ended. Why? Upon reflection, it was because there was a community of learning in that room that was a pleasure to be there. I wanted to learn in that classroom, because there was a community there that was conductive to learning. My ideal school is one that is structured based on the inter-related ethical values of loving-kindness and democracy.

Sep 12

Mark Fiore’s Animated 9/11 Statement

I probably should just collect a bunch of this stuff into one big blog, because there’s certainly a ton of commentary out there to read today… but this one really stuck out. It’s Mark Fiore’s flash editorial cartoon A Nation Remembers II.

Personally, there’s something about this that strikes me as going over a line somewhere, but I also thought there was no denying its power as a piece of commentary. And it is a rather scathing indictment of the President.

Sep 11

9/11 Memories

Got an email from one of my former players / students, the famous Jessie… and in it, she wrote:

2 years ago we scrambled home after a crazy day directing parents, signing kids out, giving out hugs, in a makeshift cab. i can barely remember presidential and politician babble before ‘freedom’ and ‘war on terror’ dominated content.

I still remember 9/11 so vividly. I remember wondering why the car alarms on Beacon’s street went off. I remember Harry Streep coming into the room to tell me what had happened. I remember one of my students getting so upset because her older brother worked in the towers. I remember the Girls Basketball team helping us to keep the school calm and safe. I remember how proud of them I was. I remember how scared I was. I remember what it felt like when Kat, all of the sudden, appeared at Beacon, pizza in hand, and I knew she was o.k. and with me.

Sep 11

6:08 AM

It’s 6:08 am, and I’m about to leave, coffee mug in hand, for Ultimate practice with the Beacon team. Seven years ago, I had to convince 10 kids that this was a sport, and we practiced on the North Lawn softball fields in Central Park, often getting chased out by baseball teams… now, we return eighteen veteran boys who bug me to start 6:30 practices as early as possible… we will have a girls team for the first time ever… and it looks like, given how many kids have asked me to be on the team already, we’ll have a JV squad as well.

Wild. Can’t be late… more later.

Sep 08

I love teaching

Schools feel wrong when the kids aren’t in them. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Beacon faculty, and we could have easily used a second week of getting ready for the school year, but I love it when the kids come back. It doesn’t matter that I never feel quite ready for my classes, when I see the kids, life is good. It feels really good every September to have my choice of career so powerfully reaffirmed.

Sep 08

Warren Zevon

Warren Zevon lost his battle with cancer Sunday night.

"Dry your eyes, my little friend
Let me take you by the hand
Freddie get ready
Rock steady
When Johnny strikes up the band"

There are about twenty other songs that are more appropriate, but that one is the one that I first put on after I woke up to the news on the radio that he’d died.

Zevon was one of the first rock and rollers who showed me that rock could be intelligent and biting and and hard and fun. He didn’t have the earnestness of the folk musicians I loved, and he had that piano energy that just flowed through his songs. There were weeks on end when his CD didn’t leave the player. And when you grew up in the 1980s, intelligent rock and roll music was rather hard to find.

Good bye, Warren… and thank you.

Sep 07

The Presidential Address…

Does anyone really believe anything that comes out of his mouth anymore? I’m sitting here listening to his press conference. Does anyone really think he cares about the people of Iraq and Afghanistan? Does he understand how crass and cynical this is? Does he understand that his willingness to clearly lie to America and the world about his motives undermines our credibility worldwide and creates a more cynical and detached citizenry at home?

You know, at least with Reagan, I had some sense that he believed what came out of his mouth, even though I disagreed with 99.9% of what he said. With Bush, I think he’s just trying to cynically say anything he can.

God… $87 billion dollars more… and he’s cut takes for the rich… and he’s cutting money for education…

It’s going to take years to recover from this administration. I only hope that the Democrats get it together to take him on and win.