Monday, February 26, 2007

'T ain't What You Do: This Version Doesn't

I don't know what I was doing in 1982, but evidently this was a big hit for Bananarama and Three Boy Three. What crapola. Too bad there isn't a clip around of Lunceford's band doing it to an audience of lindyhoppers

Black History Month Feature: Artists Of The Harlem Renaissance

To the tune of Jimmy Lunceford's "Tain't What You Do, It's The Way That You Do It." Sy Oliver arrangement with trombonist Trummy Young on vocal
"Trummy Young became a star while with Jimmy Lunceford. He was spotlighted as both a singer and trombonist, and his presentation was undoubtedly aided by the excellence of Sy Oliver's arrangements. Tain't What You Do It's The Way That You Do It is an example of a singing style that jazz critic Leonard Feather called “intimate and breathless.” Even today, Young's vocals sound refreshingly cooler and lighter than the barrel-toned delivery of most male band singers of the 30s and 40s."

When I was a kid about half past three
My daddy said "Son, come here to me"
Said things may come, and things may go
But this is one thing you ought to know...
'T ain't what you do it's the way hots you do it
'T ain't what you do it's the way hots you do it
'T ain't what you do it's the way that you do it
That's what gets results
Ma Ma Ma Ma
'T ain't what you do it's the time that you do it
'T ain't what you do it's the time that you do it
'T ain't what you do it's the time that you do it
That's what gets results
You can try hard
Don't mean a thing
Don't mean a thing
Take it easy, greasy
Then your jive will swing
Oh 't ain't what you do it's the place that you do it
'T ain't what you do it's the place that you do it
'T ain't what you do it's the place that you do it
That's what gets results

Belichick's Chick

One day I noticed a big boost in blog readership. Why? People drawn to my educational insights and sense of humour? No, but people looking for a picture of Belichick's girlfriend Sharon Shenocca. Well, I found one online, so folks could be provided here with one stop shopping. That's supposedly her with her estranged husband Vincent. Bill bought a 2 million dollar house for her in Brooklyn where Sharon is supposed to be living with her sister. With bucks like that she might be living in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Mill Basin, Bergen Beach or maybe right here in neighboring Park Slope. I'll see if I spot her in the produce aisle at Key Food.

The N Word And Gil Scott Heron

I read a piece on that takes the opposing side to Mo Beasely's view on the use of the N word. It mentioned the great Gill Scott Heron and his inspiration to rappers. How true. I think I'll compile a CD and lyrics for Mo's bunch. A lot of the kids liked the Calloway stuff.
Here's a great slide show someone did on youtube of his "Winter In America" (not really a rap piece, though), similar to the kinds of ones I make and the kinds I believe kids could be inspired to do in a Web 2.0 easy way. It sort of answers my question (to Jim Garst) as to why the public is just laying down and taking the crap that Bush is handing to us nationally and what Klein/Bloomberg are doing to us locally.
Uh from the Indians who welcomed the pilgrims
And to the buffalos who once ruled the plains
Like the vultures circling beneath the dark clouds looking for the rain
Looking for the rain
Just like the cities stagger on the coastline
In a nation that just can’t stand much more
Like the forest buried beneath the highway, never had a chance to grow
Never had a chance to grow
And now it’s winter, winter in America
Yes now that all of the killers have been killed, sent away, Yeah
But the people know, the people know, it’s winter
Winter in America
And ain’t nobody fighting cause
Nobody knows what to say
Save your soul, lord knows from
Winter in America
The constitution, a noble piece of paper
With free society, a struggle but they died in vain
And now democracy is a ragtime on the corner
Hoping for some rain
It looks like he’s hoping, hoping for some rain
And I see the robins perched in baron treetops
Watching lasting racists marching across the floor
Just like the peace sign that vanished in our dreams
Never had a chance to grow
Never had a chance to grow
And now it’s winter
Winter in America
Yes now that all of the killers have been killed, or betrayed, Yeah
But the people know, the people know, it’s winter
Lord knows it’s winter in America
And ain’t nobody fighting cause nobody knows what to say
Save your soul
From a winter in America
And now it’s winter
Winter in America
And now that all of the killers done been killed, sent away
The people know, the people know, it’s winter
Winter in America
And ain’t nobody fighting cause nobody knows what to say
And ain’t nobody fighting cause nobody knows nobody knows
And ain’t nobody fighting cause nobody knows what to say

Black History Month Feature: The Great Migration

I youtubed this slide show I made last year from Jacob Lawrence's book. I recently converted it to a DVD format and discovered it won't convert with a midi soundtrack (which I did originally for file size considerations), so I added Ellington's "MIsty Morning" and "Night Train" instead. I think it works. There's just enough resolution to see some of the text in this smaller version. I also discovered that slide shows that work manually won't work as a DVD, so they all need an automatic timing mechanism.
youtube removed

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Let's All Sing, Let Our Voices Ring

It's Eastside Gluckstern's Restaurant And Caterers. The last post sent me looking for info on Gluckstern's. Here's an example of adding text to a quicktime movie. I got the song from the Yiddish Radio Project and combined it with images from the Library of Congress (
from a 1959 article on Gluckstern's
The history of GLUCKSTERN'S beginnings go back to the turn of the century, when Louis Gluckstern operated a modest little dinery in the rear of a Grand St. saloon, near the East River ferry. The fame of his traditional Jewish dishes, as well as Romanian, Hungarian and Slavic cooking, soon drew the uptown "carriage trade." His steady customers today include Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Eddie Cantor, Milton Berle and other big names of show business. Recently Phil re-turned from a visit to Ireland with something unique —a native Irish recipe for corned beef and cabbage Kosher style. Phil Gluckstern's (Kosher), 209 W. 48th St., recently celebrated its 60th anniversary under one family's management. It is one of the city's representative Jewish restaurants, on the same location now for 13 years, and has expanded to three floors.

Knickerbocker Village Bar Mitzvahs: 1956

From the East Side News of 10/13/56: The families of the following KV boys and JHS 71 students: Dick Berger, Stephen Lieber, Paul Moloff, Michael Steinberg recently celebrated their bar mitzvahs. Looks like the Moloffs and Steinbergs were a little more well off (or maybe just conspicuous), as their boys' receptions were held at Gluckstern's on 80 Norfolk Street. The Lieber's had their sons' reception at the K.V. Social Hall. I have no recollection of a KV Hall? JHS 71 (Robert Simon) on Avenue B and 6th Street is now a building that combines PS64, Tompkins Square Middle School and the Earth School. I wonder why KV boys didn't go to JHS 65 (which was closer) instead.

Knickerbocker Village Weddings

Knickerbocker Village "Son" and punchball legend Bobby Nathanson saw his son married
yesterday. That's Josh, comic book tycoon, holding some of his prize possessions. About Josh "Josh Nathanson was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. After chance discovery of a Defenders Annual at age 7, he got hooked on comics. Later, he was able to capitalize on his love of comics, his college education, experience on Wall Street and familiarity with the internet to launch his business, ComicLink. In recent years he has become a high-profile buyer and seller of Golden Age, Silver Age and Bronze Age comic books, setting several records in 2004. His site is
About Bobby (that's him in 1959 in his Little league uniform) "Robert Nathanson has been associate professor of education since joining the faculty in 1986. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Brooklyn College, and he earned his M.S.W., Ed.M., and Ed.D. from Columbia University. Currently, he serves as area coordinator of special education. Nathanson’s major interests include psychosocial aspects of disability, vocational preparation and employment of persons with disabilities, preparation of teachers to work in urban communities, and academic preparedness of college athletes. He holds a special fondness for teaching Long Island University’s undergraduates, particularly in the introductory course, "Teaching: Imagine the Possibilities" (TAL 201).
Nathanson is associate director of Long Island University’s award-winning, federally-funded Special Educational Services Program for students with disabilities, which he directed from 1976-1986. He has received numerous federal, state and foundation grants, and in 1993 he was awarded the David Newton Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has just completed writing, “The College Athlete’s Guide to Academic Success: Tips from Peers and Profs,” tentatively slated to be published by Pearson Prentice Hall, January 2007. Nathanson lives in Little Neck, Queens with his wife, Janie. He has two grown children, Josh and Amy, who both benefited greatly from education in New York City’s public schools.

Local Heroes: NYC Council Members Katz and Liu

from and
"Mr. Bloomberg and the Small Schools
There's nothing quite like a good school to improve a neighborhood. We value nothing more than our children, and it's great to know they've got a good place to go right near home.
Of course, if you have billions of dollars, you can charter a helicopter and send your kid virtually anywhere. That's one reason why Mayor Mike closes neighborhood schools without a thought about how it will impact the community.
Inconveniently, the city council is not yet directly chosen by Mayor Mike. Its members, who must be elected by the communities they serve, are getting a little uppity. Until Mayor Mike can remedy this with further mayoral control, they're liable to continue asking impertinent questions.
"As much as the Department of Education touts the success of new schools (which has yet to be determined)," interrogated Flushing's John Liu, "who is determining the impact on existing, neighborhood schools?"Before Josh Thomases, the DOE's chief academic officer for new schools, could finish answering the question, Liu was interrupting him. "That's obfuscation," he accused. "That's a numbers game. You expect us to just swallow what you give us. We want real info."In the face of this barrage, Thomases relented, conceding: "We have not fully assessed it."Mr. Liu found this odd, as Mr. Thomases was surrounded by multicolored charts showing the alleged successes of the small school program. This goes right to the heart of the Bloomberg "reform" agenda, which is this---try any damn thing, hope for the best, and consistently claim it's a huge success. If facts don't support your claims, make up new ones.If it doesn't work, try some other thing, hope for the best, and claim to be reforming the reform. And as long as you're in the process of "reforming" you can dump kids anywhere (regardless of their needs), let anyone teach anything to anyone under the most squalid conditions, send children all over the city, build new schools on sites unfit for human habitation, and reserve the best facilities for charters and private schools.Few will notice, mayors all over the country will try to follow in your footsteps, writers from Newsweek will sing your praises, and not even the president of the teachers' union will oppose your bid to renew mayoral control.Pretty sweet deal.Unless the papers continue to report the truth (they have begun, at least) and folks like John Liu help them along. God help Mr. Bloomberg if writers from Newsweek ever bother to research what actually goes on here.

A Walk Down Bay Parkway Brooklyn

This is another in "My Walk Thru" series, a project which in think would be a good model for a low tech kids' project. The Honda Element was in the body shop (again!) and I'll follow a "don't ask, don't tell" policy as to why, since the Mrs. does read this from time to time. As a result I took the F train to Bay Parkway and then the 6 Bus to 86th Street to go to the dentist. On the way back, I skipped the bus and walked from 86th to McDonald Ave to the train. It turned out to be quite an experience. First of all, there was the incredible view of Washington Cemetery (and beyond) from the elevated station. There's a lot of recent Russian "inhabitants." You can tell many of them by the picture engraved headstones. The
cemetery packed them into some least desirable spaces, near the fences. After a long wait for the 6 bus, I didn't lose my "MTA instinct" by letting the mob of people board a bus ahead of me since invariably there's another soon to follow. Sure enough, on this one I easily got a seat in the empty back section and picked up a left behind NY Post to boot. My peace was soon broken my a mob of little Jewish girls from a just dismissed Yeshiva. How cute they were, not the usual pasty face "genetically inbred" variety. They were gleefully swapping and comparing recently issued report cards and paid little notice to me as my rear seat was surrounded. With my gray beard in its fuller stage I must have looked like a Rabbi Jerry Garcia. There were a few older girls (about 11-12 or so) who were the mamas of the bunch who herded them off at around 70th Street. What a shame that these kids, and so many others from the parochial schools, are lost to the public system.
Getting to 86th street with time to spare, I checked into the OTB off the corner. It was almost entirely made up of Chinese guys, all of whom looked like recent immigrants. I wanted to see if I could place a bet on Thursday for the race on Friday, but I couldn't.. More on this to follow in a future post.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I Didn't Have The Horse Right Here

Keen Spirit went off at 12-1. I bet $5 across the board twice for myself and my "gambling" partner Pearl Jones (Years ago, in my only other OTB experience, we won on a Max horse named "Sadie Was A Lady") Quite a collection of characters at an OTB and would you believe it I run into an old college pal (and Park Slope legend) Ira Brustein. More to come on this including a podcast. Below are the results. Keen's Spirit was on the lean side finishing 6th in a field of 8.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Spring Training

These were the days when the boys of the Lower East Side were suffering from a sports' drought. Nevertheless, Harry Liebowitz was out scouting in the basement catacombs of Knickerbocker Village for what little baseball talent St. Joseph had left untouched and the opening day parade would soon take place. (from the East Side News of 4/24/59)

Be A Clown, Be A Clown

The only two people that comment on the anonymous (the person is obviously a deep throat source)and excellent "" blog (Ed In The Apple) is some guy named Tom and myself. Tom cracked me up with this today "Klein and Bloomberg feeling the heat from their botched reorganization(s) cut art program funding, roughly $70 million dollars, to show the public at the end of the fiscal year that they’ve achieved savings, what bullshit! The only teaching and learning going on in classrooms now is showing students how to pass exams and nothing more. The clock has run out on these two clowns and I’m sure we’re going to see more fiscal trickery from these two while the kids continue to pay the price."
I was inspired to create this-yeah Randi's a clown too for allowing the other two to rollover the teachers and the public.

A Walk Down Rivington Street YouTube

Walking My Baby Back Home YouTube

I just realized that through VisualHub (a mac utility) that I can easily make DVD versions of many of my slide shows. The program also stitches files together. I made one of this and I also made a youtube version.I mentioned this previously here (copy and paste the url below-I'm too lazy now to code the direct link)

This actually illustrates tech idea #29. With younger kids, instead of having them act out a suggested movie scene, just have them pose for a receated historical scene and take stills of that for a latedr constructed slide show movie version.
tech idea # 30. By creating DVD versions (using say VisualHub for Mac) of home made movies you can create a more easily shared version of studfent work
since DVD players are certainly cheap enough and can be connected to the more prevalent large format monitors used in offices and auditoriums.

Max Speaks Part 2

Max talks about his life after World War 2, about how he met his first wife, along with other progressive folks of that pre-McCarthy era (Belafonte, Poitier) at a social club (Young Progressives) on the LES, Henry's Restraurant on Avenue B, Christadora House and his experiences at the famous Robeson concert in Peekskill in 1949. I'm off now to bet on Max's horse here's part 2 of my conversation with Max

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Max Speaks Part 1

It's been a while since I've done a podcast/slideshow. Max talks of his mother Ida's pushcart on Monroe Street, his schooling at the Rabbi Jacob School, his late brother Milton, Seward Park High School, public bathhouses, moving to Jefferson Street and later the Red Hook Projects, his World War II basic training in Atlantic City and his service in the PTO (Burma). The restaurant's muzak is in the background as well as Miguel chiming in.
here's part1 of my conversation with Max

The New York Mets: America's Jewish Baseball Team

Now we have 3! (however, non are Sephardic and Newhan might lean to being one of those weirdo Jews for Jesus types). From left to right-(actually it should be from right to left) Shawn Green, Scott Schoeneweis, David Newhan. from the nytimes: His Father May Write About It, but Newhan Plays the Game
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla., Feb. 21 — The father and son walked into Yankee Stadium together and went down a narrow stairwell last August. At the bottom, they paused.
The father, Ross Newhan, a Hall of Fame baseball writer for The Los Angeles Times, turned right, into the press room. His son, David Newhan, a scrappy utility player on the Baltimore Orioles, veered left toward the visiting clubhouse.
For Ross, who considers himself “a nonathletic sportswriter,” that moment resonates every time he watches his “genetic miracle” of a son play major league baseball. For his son, it is also special, but it is only one of the aspects of his life that sets him apart from his peers.
Besides being a 10-year-old who fielded fungoes and received batting tips from players like Rod Carew, Newhan is a player who did not receive regular playing time until he was 30. He persevered through a frustrating series of circumstances and two serious injuries, including a broken fibula sustained last season when he slid into second base. Now he finds himself here with the Mets, his eighth organization, and probably on the way to earning a place on the opening day roster.
Newhan’s versatility and high-energy playing style make him the favorite to win a bench spot on the Mets, where he would be, at least by family lineage, one of the team’s three Jewish players, joining Shawn Green and Scott Schoeneweis. Newhan’s religious odyssey, however, has put him so far outside the Jewish mainstream that many Jews probably no longer consider him Jewish.
“I’ve always been confident in everything I’ve done,” Newhan said. “I knew that I’d make it here someday, and now that I’ve been here, I love it that much more.”
This passion came, he says, from a childhood spent adjusting to baseball’s circadian rhythms. On spring breaks, he visited his father in Palm Springs, Calif., where the Angels trained, and swept the clubhouse and served as a bat boy and caught balls with some of the players’ sons, including Aaron Boone. He watched his father work and, he said, developed an appreciation for the other side of the game. He takes special care to get to know the clubhouse personnel and is sensitive to his responsibilities to the news media.
“Looking at his quotes over the years, he’s kind of a go-to guy,” his father said. “I’m proud of that.”
Newhan never aspired to follow his father into writing about baseball — “I’ve seen him curse too many times at his computer,” he said — but he still imagined having a future in the game.
He matured into a solid second baseman. But perhaps because of his 5-foot-8, 160-pound frame, and despite being among the top high school hitters in the area, he drew little interest from powerful Division I colleges. He chose to attend a local community college with the hope of earning a scholarship.
When Georgia Tech came calling and promised him the opportunity to play second base alongside a young shortstop named Nomar Garciaparra, Newhan headed to Atlanta. But when he arrived, the coach told him to play first base, and after a difficult season, he transferred to Pepperdine. At Pepperdine, Newhan, a left-handed hitter, added versatility to his game and learned to play the outfield. After a tremendous senior season, he was drafted in 1995 as an outfielder in the 17th round by Oakland, and soon serendipity arrived. The next season, at Class A Modesto, his manager, Jim Colborn, needed a second baseman because a few infielders had not reported. Walking through the parking lot one day, Colborn noticed a truck with the California license plate that read, “LV2TRN2”
“I remember thinking, ‘Who was that?’ ” said Colborn, now the Pirates’ pitching coach, in a telephone interview. “Most of our infielders were from the Dominican. So the next day I asked around, and David said it was his. He switched enthusiastically and the rest, they say, is history.”
The position change sent Newhan on the fast track toward the majors. Even though he hit 25 home runs that season (more than his teammate, Miguel Tejada), Newhan’s offensive production would not have been sufficient to warrant a roster spot. Newhan bounced around the A’s organization and was traded to the Padres in 1997. He made his major league debut with San Diego in 1999.
Then, Newhan said, it all started going wrong. He batted .140 in 32 games. The next year he hit .150. He was traded to Philadelphia and made the team out of spring training in 2001, but he injured his shoulder crashing into a left-field wall and missed most of that season and all of 2002 after having his second shoulder operation.
It was about this time that Newhan started reading the Bible for guidance, and soon, he said, “a different train pulled into the station.” He still held fast to his Jewish beliefs — he had his bar mitzvah at a Conservative synagogue — but he said that accepting Jesus Christ helped guide him through this rocky period. He observes Passover and Hanukkah and considers himself a Messianic Jew.
“I was a Jewish kid at Pepperdine — God must have been working on me then,” Newhan said of his alma mater, which is affiliated with the Churches of Christ.
Even his faith could not provide answers about what happened next. For the Rockies’ Class AAA team in 2003, Newhan batted .348 but was never called up. For the Rangers’ Class AAA team in 2004, he batted .328 and was never recalled.
He finally took advantage of a provision in his contract that allowed him to seek a major league job if he was not in the majors by June 15. He was signed by the Orioles on June 18 and was promptly ordered to fly to Denver for their game against the Rockies. That night, from his seat in the Dodger Stadium press box, his father tracked the game on his computer. His heart skipped a beat in the ninth inning when his son entered the game as a pinch-hitter. The message “Ball in Play” came up. Ross held his breath. Then the screen flashed, “Home run.”
“For the first time in my life, I had to let out a shout in the press box,” his father said.
For a long time, Ross Newhan resisted writing about his son. He stayed away from the clubhouse and shied away from writing stories about the team. When Newhan was drafted, Ross volunteered to resign from the newspaper to avoid a possible conflict of interest.
“Could I write honestly about the players union?” Ross said. “In instances where I have to be critical or negative, are they liable to treat David any differently? Can I write honestly about umpires? Is that a trouble spot? How critical can I be about players generally?”
Adhering to his convictions, Ross Newhan refrained from speaking to sources on particular teams, but he relented to write about his son after the home run in Colorado. For Father’s Day, he wrote a column that began: “I woke on Father’s Day mindful that my son, David, had again sent me some of life’s finest gifts. Imagine. He had again found a way to package perseverance, air mail tenacity, deliver dedication.”
David Newhan smiled as he recalled the column and said he could not wait for his parents to visit him here next month. He will be playing, of course, but there is a possibility that they may arrive at the field, their shared workplace, together again.

I Got The Horse Right Here 2

I got the horse right here 
The name is Paul Revere 
And here's a guy that says that the weather's clear 
Can do, can do, this guy says the horse can do 
If he says the horse can do, can do, can do. 

(Benny starts singing his part at this time, while Nicely continues:) 
Can do - can do - this guy says the horse can do 
If he says the horse can do - can do, can do. 

(Rusty starts singing his part as the time, while Nicely and Benny continue:) 
For Paul Revere I'll bite 
I hear his foot's all right 
Of course it all depends if it rained last night 

Likes mud, likes mud, this X means the horse likes mud 
If that means the horse likes mud, likes mud 
Likes mud. 

I tell you Paul Revere 
Now this is no bum steer 
It's from a handicapper that's real sincere 
Can do, can do, this guy says the horse can do. 
If he says the horse can do - can do - can do. 
Paul Revere. I got the horse right here. 

I'm pickin' Valentine, 'cause on the morning line 
A guy has got him figured at five to nine 
Has chance, has chance, this guy says the horse has chance 
if he says the horse has chance, has chance, has chance 

I know it's Valentine, the morning work looks fine 
Besides the jockey's brother's a friend of mine 
Needs race, needs race, this guy says the horse needs race 
If he says the horse needs race, needs race, needs race. 
I go for Valentine, 'Cause on the morning line, 
The guy has got him figured at five to nine 
Has chance, has chance, this guy says the horse has chance 
Valentine! I got the horse right here. 

But look at Epitaph. he wins it by a half 
According to this here in the Telegraph 
"Big Threat" - "Big Threat" 
This guy calls the horse "Big Threat" 
If he calls the horse "Big Threat", 
Big Threat, Big Threat. 

And just a minute, boys. 
I've got the feed box noise 
It says the great-grandfather was Equipoise 
Shows class, shows class. 
This guy says the horse shows class 
If he says the horse shows class 
Shows class, show's class. 

So make it Epitaph, he wins it by a half 
According to this here in the Telegraph. 
Epitaph! I got the hore right here!

I Got The Horse Right Here

Here I am yesterday wearing my Knickerbocker Village Hoodie interviewing the inimitable Max Weintraub at Noah's Ark Restaurant on Grand Street. Among the things Max is telling me about is the sad state of affairs at a CSD1 public school (a victim of the new regime's policies-made even worse by Region 9's interpretation of them) as well as growing up on Monroe Street and knowing someone named Kuperstein! That's retired All Star teacher, Miguel Figueroa, to the right. Max, a horsemen, is wearing one of his Western Shirts. He explained how the material is stronger to withstand the brush. Max has one of his horses, "Keen Spirit," racing at Aqueduct tomorrow. I think I'll mix it up with some of the dregs at OTB to place a bet on her. That's "Keen Spirit" below. A podcast is in the works

Here's an article about Max and his cronies from 2003:
COPING; They've Got The Horse Right Here
REMEMBER Funny Cide, the $75,000 gelding bought by six buddies from upstate New York who became the first New York-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, then lost (or as Max Weintraub, of Mercer Street, prefers to say, ''almost won'') the Triple Crown?
Mr. Weintraub, along with his associate and fellow widower Stanley Ettinger, managing partner of Pont Street Stable, and 58 other partners, hope to produce the next Funny Cide, a lucky horse owned not by aristocrats or billionaires but by doctors, lawyers, accountants and garmentos out of Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, New Jersey and Long Island.
Why shouldn't the next Funny Cide be Old Crow, Pont Street's chestnut gelding? Or Pocahaba, the black filly? Or maybe Rocket Star, the chestnut colt? In horse racing, a profound belief in one's own fundamental luckiness is an essential quality.
''We're looking for that golden rainbow,'' Mr. Weintraub said the other day, feeding carrot chunks out of a resealable bag to the eight horses now boarding at Pont Street, a stable on the grounds of Belmont Park, on the Queens-Nassau border. His baseball cap was embossed in a pink and blue horse, the colors of the Pont Street silks.
Mysterious Moll won $500,000 before becoming a broodmare. Then the partners thought they had it made with Tap the Admiral, son of Pleasant Tap. Two years ago, they paid $35,000 for the horse, then three years old, and from that point, he won nearly half a million dollars; in July he took home $250,000 from the Firecracker Handicap at Churchill Downs alone. In September, after racing in Canada, Tap came down with colitis. Three weeks later, Mr. Weintraub visited Tap in the stable, and he was lying down, ''a bad sign,'' Mr. Weintraub said.
Tap died that day; his stall is sadly empty now.
Some horses never win. ''Remember, it's like a Broadway show,'' Mr. Ettinger said. ''There's a 'Cats' and a 'Phantom,' and there's all the rest.''
Other horses have good karma. The stable paid $30,000 for Sweet Sondra, named after Mr. Weintraub's late wife, and she won $200,000.
Mr. Ettinger, a retired importer of silk scarves, is selective about his partnerships. ''I interview people,'' he said. ''If a guy says, 'How much return do we get on this?' I immediately say: 'This is not for you. Invest in the stock market if you're looking for return.''
Mr. Weintraub, retired comptroller at Pace Advertising, which he co-founded in 1949, joined the syndicate 10 years ago after meeting Mr. Ettinger at a New Year's Eve party. Mr. Ettinger drives an Infiniti with 225WIN vanity plates, racing terminology for the roughly $2.25 payoff on a $2 bet on an odds-on favorite.
''I lost my wife nine years ago,'' Mr. Ettinger said. ''If not for this . . . '' His horse buddies are like family; they invite him to weddings, briths, bar mitzvahs, christenings, unveilings.
When the Pont Street horses retire, they're put up for adoption. ''So they don't end up in a French restaurant,'' Mr. Weintraub said.
Mr. Weintraub's first exposure to horses came on the Lower East Side when he was about 10. During the Depression, his widowed mother sold ''shmattes'' -- pillow cases and the like -- out of a pushcart on Monroe Street. She kept the pushcart in a stable, and the owner sometimes let young Max take out a horse and wagon. His mother also used to ride the bus to Saratoga, to take the waters. ''There were the Whitneys, the Vanderbilts and the Weintraubs from the Lower East Side,'' he said.
Mr. Weintraub does not believe in the science of betting. He doesn't even read the The Daily Racing Form. ''I've seen guys come out here with laptop computers and punch in all this stuff,'' he said, ''and they don't do any better.'' His advice: ''Pick a name you like, or a jockey. Jerry Bailey, he wins the most races.''
Away from the track, Mr. Weintraub volunteers at Public School 134 on the Lower East Side, trying to help poor kids in his old neighborhood get into private and boarding school. When one of his horses wins a race, he throws a cookie party.
The other day, his table in the Aqueduct trustees' lounge bet $1 here, $2 there in the first three races, with Mr. Weintraub egging them on. They lost everything, except for Mr. Ettinger, who did not bet. In the fourth race, Mr. Weintraub went for broke. He bet all 12 horses, spending $24, which he rounded up at the table. Mr. Ettinger predicted he would come out even, but he did better. A long shot came in at 12-1 odds, paying $25.60. Mr. Weintraub split the $1.60 profit with his table, keeping 80 cents for himself. Today 80 cents; tomorrow, the Triple Crown.

Another Brick Removed From The Wall 2

Without arts education its just skill and drill

We don't need no education 
We dont need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
All in all it's just another brick in the wall.
All in all you're just another brick in the wall.

We don't need no education
We dont need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
All in all it's just another brick in the wall.
All in all you're just another brick in the wall.
"Wrong, Do it again!"
"If you don't eat yer meat, you can't have any pudding. How can you
have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat?"
"You! Yes, you behind the bikesheds, stand still laddy!"

We don't need arts education 
We just need thought control
Just lots of sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
All in all it's just another brick removed from the wall.
All in all it's just another brick removed from the wall.

We don't need arts education 
We just need thought control
Just lots of sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
All in all it's just another brick removed from the wall.
All in all it's just another brick removed from the wall.

All in all it's just another brick removed from the wall.
All in all it's just another brick removed from the wall.

"Wrong, Do it again!"
"If you don't eat yer meat, you can't have any pudding. How can you
have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat?"
"You! Yes, you behind the bikesheds, stand still laddy!"

Another Brick Removed From The Wall

The principals will use the money on high priced consultants who will coach them on how to statistically "game" the system so that they will retain their jobs. from the nytimes: Principals May Win Control of Millions in School Funds
The New York City school system is planning to give principals new discretion over the spending of millions of dollars that until now have been specifically earmarked for a wide range of arts programs.
The change would be part of an effort by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein to give principals more say over how they run their schools and spend their money. It has prompted an outcry from groups that have been fighting for years to resuscitate arts programs that were decimated during the city’s fiscal crisis three decades ago.
David Cantor, an Education Department spokesman, said the department had not firmly “locked into a decision” about how to handle the $67.5 million in annual Project Arts money. But he added, “In line with what we’re doing with everything else, we’re inclined to detach it from arts education.” Officials say that the Project Arts money accounts for only a part of the department’s total arts spending.
The Project Arts money pays for everything from arts supplies to teacher salaries to dance programs to artist residencies in schools. Although some principals might keep the programs, they all would be able to shift money to different priorities.
Richard Kessler, executive director of the Center for Arts Education, a nonprofit group that has donated more than $40 million to the city schools for arts education, said that such flexibility for principals would be a “catastrophe in the making.” Mr. Kessler said he feared that principals whose schools had the neediest children and the lowest test scores could be the most inclined to scrap arts programs in favor of more academic programs.
“These are the kids who need the power of the arts, in terms of what it does for attendance, what it does for self-confidence, for habits of the mind, for building bridges between cultures.”
Elements of the plan were discussed at a meeting on Friday at which Chancellor Klein and other Department of Education officials briefed representatives of arts groups on changes to the school system, and their effect on the arts.
Several people who attended the meeting said they were concerned not only about the money, but also about the fate of 10 regional arts supervisors who oversee arts in the schools. As part of a new decentralization of the school system, the 10 regional offices where the supervisors are based are being eliminated. Mr. Cantor said it was not yet clear whether similar positions would exist under the new system.
Arts programs in the New York City public schools have never fully recovered from the blow they suffered in the 1970s. But in recent years, particularly under Mr. Bloomberg, a generous patron of the arts, they have made a comeback. For example, the Education Department has put in place new standards in the past few years that set out what students pre-kindergarten through Grade 12 should be learning in visual art, music, dance and theater.
“What we’ve seen over the last few years has been this really remarkable arts structure the likes of which hasn’t been in the schools for 30 years,” said Steven Tennen, executive director of ArtsConnection, a nonprofit group that is receiving about $1 million of the arts money this year to run programs in the schools. It also raises several million additional dollars.
Now, he said, “I think that we’re going to have trouble, particularly without a reminder in the individual school budgets that the arts are important.”
Some Project Arts money was already freed up this year for more than 300 “empowerment schools,” where principals have significant freedoms; that group will be expanded next year. Mr. Cantor said that this year’s empowerment schools are spending all but 15 percent of Project Arts money on arts.
At Friday’s meeting, according to some attendees, Chancellor Klein and other officials also explained how the arts would fit into school report cards. According to Mr. Kessler, officials said that the arts would be one factor in judging “school environment,” which will account for 15 percent of a school’s grade.
David Shookhoff, chairman of the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable, an organization that provides services for more than 100 city arts groups, said that with “the meaningful accountability” being in math and English, the incentive would be “to spend unrestricted monies in those areas. I don’t like to be a Cassandra, a prophet of doom, but I am deeply concerned.”
Mr. Cantor of the Education Department said in a statement, “We don’t earmark funding for reading or math — we just demand results. The same should be true of arts.”

The World Of Our Fathers 2

An amazing bit of synchronicity occured when researching the 1930 census for information on my old Knickerbocker Village friends' fathers. I had remembered that many of these fathers had grown up together before eventually moving to Knickerbocker Village as adults (built approx 1935). It's striking when you see the data right in front of you. I put together segments of that census above in a comparative collage. They practically lived on the same block, Monroe Street, between Market and Pike! The exception is Murray's mother, who of course wasn't a father except in the "generational" sense. She lived about 4 blocks northeast. She also came from, it seems, a comparatively well off family. Her father owned the building they lived in which was above the family butcher shop on Ludlow and Hester. My parents lived "uptown," meaning north of Delancey. This lower, lower east side was more a mix of Italians, Irish and Jews as well as Spanish as opposed to the more concentrated Jewish section. Max Weintraub, more about him later, wasn't one of my friends' fathers but an interesting gent who I had lunch with today. Below is a google map satellite view of that area. The baseball field shown was the former site of PS 177 where many of these dads, and later their sons, went to school.

Below, a picture recently sent to me by Murray Schefflin (Blance Miller's son), shows PS 177, a CBJ Snyder castle gem, being torn down in 1967. The arrow points to the approximate site of 129 Monroe Street.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Black History Month Features

a karaoke (with Billie) movie version of the beautifully illustrated Pinkney book on "God Bless The Child"
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and a compilation of Harlem photos I've taken over the year set to various versions of A Train
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I Love The Way You Move

Melissa's first graders are studying community means of transportation. I took some pics of a variety of formats in the neighborhood between East 4th-6th and between Avenues A and B. I love this old Earth, Wind and Fire song even though it's not cool to like Kenny G.

Come Get Your Tootsie Frootsie Ice Cream

The current site (on Catherine Street, between Madsion and Market) of where the Brokowsky Fruit Store used to be.

Return To Sender: Sonia Diaz-Salcedo

Sylvester Salcedo was an interesting guy. He returned his service medals in protest of a national drug policy that was going nowhere. I also believe he "returned" his wife (ex-wife?), former CSD1 Superintendent from Hell, Sonia Diaz-Salcedo. Looks like the good guys won one. Some small justice for the late, excellent principal of PS64, Jeanette Headley, who was unfairly removed by Sonia so she could accumulate notches on her scarf. Sonia was canned quickly by the school board in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The folks at did some great reporting in spurring on that rejection. Here's a sample of how they disclosed a career littered with incompetence:Diaz Track Record
New York City Community School District 1:
Resigned as Superintendent when Board did not renew her contract after discovering a budget deficit of $1.5 million as reported by the NY Times 4/26/2000.
Bridgeport, Conn. Schools:
Was bought out after Board of Education refused to extend her contract as Superintendent as reported by the Connecticut Post on 10/29/2004.
In 2003, the Connecticut State Board of Education called for Diaz to explain what her plans were for remedying the “city students' continued failure to meet performance standards” as reported in the Connecticut Post 12/26/2003.
After 3 years on the job in Bridgeport, fewer than one in 20 public high school students in Bridgeport mastered the subject material in four key areas, according to new standardized test results. And results of the latest Connecticut Academic Performance Test also show that barely one in 10 students is mastering one of those subjects. The dismal test results are the latest bad news for a school district that has already recorded disappointing results on standardized tests for students in lower grades. Connecticut Post 10/13/2003
After 3 years in Bridgeport, 21 out of 25 elementary schools failing federal standards. A lower percentage of students passing mastery tests. Higher percentages of high school students dropping out. In raw numbers, at least, the record compiled by Supt. of Schools Sonia Diaz Salcedo during her first three years as the city's education chief would not appear to be anything to brag about. Connecticut Post 10/28/2003
The cumulative dropout rate rose from the Class of 2000, with 23.6 percent, to 32.1 percent for the Class of 2002. Diaz was hired in 2000. Connecticut Post 9/28/2003
A city schools security consultant is being paid $40 an hour in overtime to drive Supt. of Schools Sonia Diaz Salcedo to and from airports. Connecticut Post 5/18/2003
Miami-Dade County Schools:
Was hired in Miami by friend, Rudy Crew, who was a former NYC Schools chancellor and served with Diaz on an Urban School Project. Miami-Dade bought the Houghton-Mifflin “Reading in Progress” program in 2005.
Left Miami-Dade after less than 6 months on the job as Deputy Superintendent for Curriculum. Her leaving was “a mutual decision” according to the Miami-Dade school spokesman.
Las Cruces Public Schools:
Diaz brought in friends as consultants with contracts ranging from $4,000 to $25,000
Diaz used harassment, intimidation, threats, degradation and humiliation to force out Jo Ann Patton, Jack Jenkins and Jerry Laws.
Diaz has behaved boorishly and unacceptably for the Superintendent of Schools in dealings with local workers at various local businesses.
Diaz has threatened, intimidated and humiliated current employees and caused others to resign because of her denigrating and demeaning treatment.
Diaz hired her friend, John Marsilio, for “Business Manager” without posting or calling for applications.
Lied on televised interview regarding the hiring of the “Business Manager”
Marsilio, newly hired “Business Manager”, was fired at City of Bridgeport after Mayor Joseph Ganim, for whom he worked, was indicted in a major fraud scandal “Incoming acting Mayor John Fabrizi has fired longtime city Public Facilities Director John Marsilio and told him to vacate his office today.” Connecticut Post 4/4/2003
“Fabrizi could not be reached Thursday for comment, but sources close to him said the decision to replace Marsilio is based on a desire to bring in new people and concerns that Marsilio, along with other department heads, did not stand in Ganim's way, or raise red flags, over irregularities in awarding city contracts. During Ganim's trial in U.S. District Court in New Haven, Marsilio's name came up numerous times. Although no one accused Marsilio of criminal wrongdoing, Paul Pinto, Ganim's admitted bagman, said in wiretapped conversations that Marsilio and former Finance Director Jerome Baron were "players," meaning they could be counted on not to make waves.“ Connecticut Post 4/4/2003
Marsilio is not qualified for licensure as a “School Business Official” in the state of New Mexico. He would have to attend training over a period of years. Some of that training would be provided by employees he now supervises.
Diaz has violated District policy and the state anti-donation law by giving Marsilio unearned vacation leave as a part of his contract.
Diaz has been fiscally irresponsible by taking textbook monies allocated to schools in order to purchase $1 million textbooks for a literacy program. She also tried to inappropriately use federal funds for these textbooks.
Diaz has been fiscally irresponsible in handling her operational office budget. That budget was in the red by August and required an infusion of $50,000 to keep it out of the red.
Diaz has been fiscally irresponsible by not providing itemized receipts for her expense account as generally accepted accounting principles require.
Diaz has been fiscally irresponsible and vindictive by freezing the Bilingual Department budget.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Local Hero: Stewie Brokowsky

Stewie grew up with me in Knickerbocker Village. His family had (among other businesses) a fruit store on Catherine, between Madison and Monroe Street. Stewie wasn't fleet a foot, but he was pretty swift with the ladies. He was also always good for a laugh. According to my pal Richard Karney, he may have been first amongst us to strike nooky gold. For that, and the fact that he is currently in a heroic fight with liver cancer, he is a LES local hero. That's him with his beautiful wife along with his little league picture as an insert.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Local Hero: John Lawhead

from This guy has quite a set of cahones and he must be a hell of a teacher because you know they will come after him. Here's his testimony before the City Council on 2/16/07: New York Immigration Coalition Panel Oversight Hearings on the DOE's Small Schools Initiative
New York City Council Education Committee, "Good morning. I'm John Lawhead and I'm a teacher of English as a Second Language at Samuel J. Tilden High School in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. I've been a teacher in city high schools for eleven years. I want to thank Chairman Jackson for holding these hearings and the New York Immigration Coalition for inviting me to join their panel. I'm here to discuss how immigrant teenagers in my school community are being affected by the Department of Education's small schools initiative.
Tilden has a large population of recently arrived immigrants. We have students from Latin American, the West Indies and West Africa. The vast majority of the students in our school who are learning English come from Haiti. In the months since the current school year began Tilden has taken in between 75 and 80 teenagers newly arrived in the country. In school jargon they are called “over the counter” students. A major part of my teaching schedule is spent with these students.
A couple of days ago at the start of one of my afternoon classes I observed a group of Haitian students standing by a window. They were completely entranced as they watched snow falling into the street outside. Their sheer awe and the silence in which they stood watching the event amused me and I started to joke about their innocence. One boy protested, stepped away from his classmates, and said that he'd already seen snow -- sometime last week.
Yesterday the mood had changed. The students were sullen about the weather. They were surprised at how quickly the snow had turned hard and ugly. There was even the sense of a general disaster. During the morning, Nancy and Jude, a brother and sister in the same class, arrived very late and out of breath. There were wearing visitors' badges from Kings County Hospital. Their mother had left for work early yesterday morning and she fell on the ice and broke her leg. I savor knowing these kids and sharing the ups and downs of their early days in the U.S.
I'm not here to complain about the bad weather my students are experiencing. They are living the brave life of immigrants. I want to speak about the kind of educational welcome they receive in this city and how the new schools initiative that is being implemented at Tilden shows an abhorrent lack of planning to meet their needs.
The planned phase-out of Tilden High School will bring to an end to one of the last Haitian Creole bilingual programs remaining in New York City. According to the current directory of high schools1 there are only three other bilingual programs for Haitian Creole speaking students. The other high schools where Haitian Creole programs are offered, Midwood, Clara Barton and John Dewey are all severely overcrowded. Midwood, which is the closest in proximity to Tilden is presently about 180 percent over capacity. John Dewey, is similarly stressed and according to a recent press report,2 is expected to be put on the DOE's list of impact schools in the near future.
Tilden itself experienced the effects of other large schools closing and the deflection of incoming 9th graders to neighboring zoned schools. Some of our current students come from neighborhoods where other bilingual programs were dismantled, such as Wingate and the Erasmus campus. A few years ago Tilden made news when its population increased by 20 percent as it accommodated students from other parts of Brooklyn.
What does it mean to lose bilingual education? By this approach recently arriving immigrants benefit by learning new subject knowledge and skills in their native language while also learning English for a substantial part of the day. Bilingual education puts students' previous knowledge and reading skills to ready use. Research has shown that when students are receiving good instruction in their native language, they get new background knowledge that helps make the English they hear and read more understandable. As a result the use of the students' first language accelerates their learning of the type of English they need for school.
For adolescent youth bilingual programs provide a basic psychological support. On a personal level they are gratified to be able to use their native language for academic purposes. It allows them feel more like the adults they are becoming rather than babies who must grope for basic words and structures of English the entire school day.
Teenagers who have recently immigrated need such support. Adolescence is typically a difficult stage of life. Young people experience many new inner conflicts during their teen years as they strive to develop integrated personalities. They have a need to share what they know and who they are fluently. Granted this is not always possible for immigrant children of every language background. But it makes no sense to destroy a program that does provide such opportunities and support, especially when nothing even remotely similar has been proposed to take its place.
Immigrant teenagers need stable schools with caring teachers. They also benefit from the cross-cultural experiences that are possible in a large school. I'm glad to have my students in a school with students of different language backgrounds, include many native-English speakers. Tilden affords them the chance for social interaction with American-born peers in many settings.
To single out one instance, some of my students and former students are on Tilden's varsity football team. Sidney Lowens, Kerby Janvier and Lominy Pompee formed part of starting offensive line and special squads last fall. Lominy also served as kicker. Their great blocking and hustle helped carry the Blue Devils into the city playoffs under their coach Peter Waterman. There are other students in the football program of Haitian and West Indian background. The three I named are recent immigrants with low to high intermediate-level proficiency in English. I believe it's safe to say that until a few short years ago they had neither watched nor played American football. At some home games I found the bleachers crowded with other Haitian students who watched the games. Many were on their way to play soccer afterwards and had yet to fully grasp even the point of a football game. Yet they appreciated it as a school event involving classmates and friends.
The interaction of students and school community is a two-way street. As students who often have a strong intrinsic motivation to learn recent immigrants provide a good influence for other students in the school. I'm often stopped by teachers of the mainstream content areas who tell me what great contributions the former ESL students are making in their classes. At Tilden the ESL students participate in book clubs, art exhibits, dance shows and science fairs, collaborating and sharing their talents with American-born students.
Our school benefits students who are learning English in many ways which the city doesn't bother to track or elicit views about. There is much available data collected by the school from the moment families arrive with over-the-counter students. Parents and guardians of students identified as English Language Learners are given a mandated orientation that requires they view a video presenting both bilingual education and the English immersion approach. The parents are then given a survey to confirm their preference of instructional approaches. These steps were established under Chancellor Harold O. Levy and were meant to gauge the extent to which bilingual education might be substituted for by English immersion. Each year the parents of new students at Tilden have been unanimous in choosing our bilingual program.
The plan to phase-out Tilden beginning September 2007 shows an marked indifference to available DOE data with regard to the success of Tilden's bilingual program. The recent School Quality Review described a school with a new principal that was making great strides in improving the school. They praised the principal for her good use of data to adjust and change the schools academic programs. They also noted that the school was meeting New York State Standards for English Language Learners as shown by scores on the Regents exams that were 16 percent better than the citywide average. As noted above, there are also many other indicators of success that could be found in a careful evaluation of the school.
It is clear that given the overcrowding of many neighborhoods New York City needs more high schools. It also is seems evident that in a city that has become fixated on short-term goals there must be a redesign of education to better meet students’ needs. I would applaud the efforts of small schools planners to design schools where students' interest in real learning can be rekindled. Our schools should once again embrace such goals as civic participation, research projects, creativity in art and music, cross-cultural awareness, good habits of mind, vocational training with experts from the trades, and all the things that can make the school experience a joy but have been undermined by the current emphasis on pressure, fear and achievement scores.
But these newly designed schools deserve their own buildings. It is sad the way small schools planning teams are being used as pawns in a process to close large schools. It is time to question what the real agenda of the small schools initiative is. New Visions for the Public Schools which has overseen the funding of the small schools initiative claims that “local partnerships” are an essential component of successful new schools. In fact, not only has there been no community input into the decision to phase-out Tilden, there was not even any planning for such participation. The date the announcement was made to close Tilden followed by a week and a half the deadline for submitting proposals for the new schools that would replace it. Since 2001 New Visions has shown itself to be a conduit for private corporate funding always and a seeker of community partnerships seldom or never.
This is not a grassroots process. Finding such community partnerships would first of all involve honesty and plain speaking. It would require a thorough evaluation of what is working or not working in existing schools, not blanket condemnation and unsupported promises of sudden success. It would above all necessitate a close examination of the school’s population and its needs.
Instead, the discussion of the reasons for the closing which followed the announcement of closing has been a one-sided promotion of the small schools approach to education, and very selective results, anecdotes and testimony. The Office of Small Schools chooses not to showcase other less flattering aspects of the small schools initiative such as the rampant turnover of the principals and staff of small schools. One press report recently found a small school in which 80 percent of the staff were in their first year. In other words, most of the teachers in that school were still learning how to teach. Instead, it chooses to trumpet preliminary conclusions from a study funded by same organization that brought the small schools initiative to the city in the first place, the Gates Foundation.
All this hype and fanfare brings to mind the Haitian proverb, Move dan gen fos si banan mi. Even rotten teeth can feel mighty when they sink into a ripe banana. In recent years the large high schools have been served a much coarser fare than soft fruit. The larger schools have been burdened with overcrowding, split scheduling, oversized classes, inadequate facilities and budget cuts. They are assigned students with long-term absences, learning disabilities, emotional impairment, borderline intelligence and low English proficiency. In exchange for their effort to educate a broader population these school face official disparagement of their progress, a kind of disownership really, as the mayor and chancellor describe them in the most general terms as inherently unmanageable, complacent and impersonal while this same leadership relentlessly promotes its own pet projects, corporate-style school leadership, small schools and charter schools, which it subjects to minimal scrutiny.
Closing large schools means closing the books on accountability. It means closing the books on the DOE's broken promises to our students that they come first. It lets the DOE distract attention and escape from having to own up to the results of its policies of neglect, which include abysmal citywide drop-out and graduation rates.
My colleague, Deycy Avitia, in her testimony to this Council will quote a recent speech by Chancellor Klein in which he rejects “incrementalism.” He suggests that tinkering with programs and looking for gradual improvement is too timid an approach. Instead, he demands bold leadership that makes all the improvement a matter of one fell swoop.
Such a viewpoint is anathema to the work schools do. It demonstrates a lack of interest in finishing what has been started or evaluating what is working and what is not working in the new initiatives. School improvement like real learning is a gradual development.
At Tilden we are committed both to students who thrive at once in our school and also to the late-bloomers who will require more than four years to graduate. “Late bloomer” is educational term and a long-standing concept. It suggests than learning is in many ways a natural process that every human being is endowed with. The buds of flowers do not just open upon command. Educators much have patience to watch them open. As teachers we tend to the flowers and do our best to provide space and appropriate nutrition for young intellects. The real learning that we believe in is not merely a set tricks that one performs for someone else. It's what you do for yourself.
There are teachers at Tilden who believe in real learning and real school improvement. That is the reason we are fighting this arbitrary and devastating plan to phase us out. We have spoken out at many forums across Brooklyn and also in Manhattan and the Bronx. Last week we held a well-attended Town Hall meeting to discuss the closing of Tilden and its impact on the school community.
Mr. Chairman I urge you to support the efforts of the parents, students and educators at Tilden High School. We intend to finish what we’ve started with all of our students, including the city’s newest immigrants."

C Jam Blues 2

Here's the Duke with a 1941 film version of C Jam Blues . Terrific. Ray Nance on violin, along with Stewart, Webster, Bigard and the rest of the all star crew
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C Jam Blues

We have one of those new giant monitors in the office and the principal wants to display pics of the kids at work and other special events. After the science teacher and I were futzing around (I must be the last person in the world who doesn't have one of these) with the monitor inputs from a computer situated behind an adjoining wall, I decided that the best way is to justy hook up a DVD player to it. (We weren't able to figure out how to view both monitors at the same time, what do you expect-it was a pc). In that way I'm not occupying a processor and I don't have to be around to start and start any looped movie-somebody can just do it from the front with a remote. So what I'm doing now is converting a lot of my slide shows to a DVD format. I also thought it would be cool to make a DVD about various aspects of Harlem. In that way I get a chance to play around with my favorite old time big band jazz cuts (lunceford, ellington, basie, henderson, etc.). The trick is to make sure that your images are big enough for a full screen. It also helps when you want to youtube. Some of these I "borrowed" from a flciker type site. I'm awaiting approval. Some of them are my own. The music is C Jam Blues by the Duke. I think it works. I think I'll add this to my list of ideas. In time more and more schools will have these (it's so corporate!) and it would be nice that part of their loop would be a unique school community type loop.
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Solidarity Forever 3

I'm thrilled that my services (pro bono) have been enlisted by the brave folks in the UFT (ICE-NJC) who are running against the Unity Slate. A preview of one of my works in progress.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Sopranos-DOE Family Values

Cerfino and Roselli are characters in the new season. My understanding is that Joel Klein is auditioning for the role of Hesh. It might be a good move, because If he isn't removed by the mayor, the bus company owners may take him for a ride down to the Jersey shore. From left to right: Janice Soprano, Chris Cerfino, "Paulie Walnuts" Gualtieri, Adriana La Cerva, Joel Roselli, Corrado "Junior" Soprano, Meadow Mariangela Soprano, Tony Soprano.

Hotline, Hotline

When a Rose is not a Rose
"I suggest that as many people as possible call the Special Investigator’s office and ask him to investigate why Rose and Cerf were hired as consultants for DOE when they had clear conflicts of interest – and in Rose’s case, the company he managed was about to be cited by the Special Investigator’s office for unethical if not illegal practices, which officials at Tweed must surely have been aware of when he was taken on as a consultant.
Also, ask that the office look into why Rose and Cerf were recently hired as high level, full time employees, without being required to wait three years, as is the practice for CEC members, and in Cerf’s case, w/out being asked to divest himself of Edison stock.
Special Investigator Hot Line: (877) 888-8355 Every person who calls the hotline receives a case number and a pledge that an investigator assigned to the case will contact them shortly. The more of us who call, the more likely it is that they will take their responsibility to look into this matter seriously.
Exec in student 'bribe' flap gets hired by city
The Education Department has hired the former head of a tutoring company that was slammed last year for "bribing" students and allowing people with criminal records to interact with kids.
Joel Rose, the former general manager of the Newton Learning company, was hired last month as the $149,000-a-year chief of staff to Deputy Chancellor Christopher Cerf, school officials said.
Newton is a division of Edison Schools, the controversial for-profit company where Cerf served as president before becoming a city schools consultant early 2006. Rose worked with Cerf on the same consulting contract.
Newton was the subject of scathing report last year by special schools investigator Richard Condon, who found that the company failed to do criminal checks on employees who interacted with kids - including some who had been arrested for robbery and drug dealing.
Condon also found the company was one of several that had used money and gifts to lure kids into tutoring programs. Tutoring companies are paid based on how many kids attend their classes.
Schools spokesman David Cantor said Rose had a "distinguished educational career" and that his "role in designing Children First reforms over the past year has been invaluable."

Friday, February 16, 2007

A Rose By Any Other Name Would Still Stink

From nyceducator: "Boy, those wacky Edison Schools vets are certainly beloved by Mayor Bloomberg.The Education Department has hired the former head of a tutoring company that was slammed last year for "bribing" students and allowing people with criminal records to interact with kids. Joel Rose, the former general manager of the Newton Learning company, was hired last month as the $149,000-a-year chief of staff to Deputy Chancellor Christopher Cerf, school officials said.
"Newton Learning is among eight groups approved by IPS to tutor up to 650 students at Marshall Middle School. Another is the Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis, which has a contract worth up to $900,000 for lessons to as many as 600 IPS students this year. The actual amount paid will be determined by the number of students attending lessons.
Marshall Principal Jamyce Banks appreciates the work of tutors from the nonprofit group. But she questions the approach Newton Learning has taken. The IPS School Board granted Newton a $525,000 contract for as many as 350 students this school year.
Newton tutoring sessions were supposed to start Nov. 28, the day dozens of students stayed after school to start the program. No tutors showed up, though, and Banks later learned the firm had pushed back the start date to January.
Banks said Newton signed up the students it has by promising $100 gift cards. Newton said the money was an incentive for students to attend every session, not just for signing up. Children would need to attend every lesson to receive the gift card -- they have been paid nothing in advance.

In the past, Newton and other tutoring groups did hand out gifts for signing up. This year, Newton changed -- and the state put a $100 cap on the value of incentives.

"We're competing with Xbox and TV and all of the other things they can be doing besides being tutored," said Joel Rose, general manager of Newton Learning, the tutoring division of Edison Schools. "If they don't come, they don't learn."
Joel Rose, JD'98: Using his Law Degree to Improve the American Educational System June 2004
From University of Miami Law School Site:
Since graduating from the University of Miami School of Law in 1998, Joel Rose has worked for Edison Schools, Inc., the largest private provider of education in the country. Headed by Benno Schmidt, former president of Yale University, Edison operates partnerships with school districts to manage public and charter schools as well as summer and after school programs. "I first heard about the Edison Project when I was in law school. In 1995, they had four schools that they were managing and when I started there in 1998, we had partnerships with sixteen schools. We now service more than 132,000 public school students in over twenty states." Over the past six years, Joel has seen his role and responsibilities grow extensively at the rapidly expanding company. Edison initially hired Joel as associate general counsel, but after two years of negotiating management agreements and dealing with compliance issues, Joel was promoted to the position of Vice-President of Revenue and for the past year he has served as the Vice-President of Supplemental Education Services. Joel graduated cum laude from Tufts University with a degree in political science in 1992. From 1992 until he started law school in 1995, Joel worked for Teach for America. As a corps member for Teach for America, Joel taught fifth-graders at an elementary school in Houston, Texas. While working for Teach for America, he decided to apply to law school because he had become interested in the legal underpinnings and issues of the American educational system Joel interned for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Miami after his first year of law school and the following summer, he was a summer associate at Davis Polk & Wardell in New York City. Deciding that a career at a big firm was not for him, Joel looked elsewhere and was very excited to find the position at Edison. "I felt the faculty at UM did a great job of preparing me for my legal and non-legal careers. While I don't read cases or argue in court, I still use my legal skills, particularly my problem solving skills, on a daily basis in the non-legal world." Last summer Joel was married to Doris Cooper, a book editor with Simon & Schuster. "My wife and I just figured out how to make a tennis court reservation in Central Park and my legal background was extremely useful in navigating through their rules and regulations!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Reach The World Trinidad

This is pretty good if I do say so myself. I was teaching Ms. Cleveland's third graders about Trinidad since the Makulu was there.
I took advantage of the knowledge of our school's Steel Drum expert Mr. Ling for an impromptu interview. Later I mixed the interview with steel drum music using audacity. The images were suggested by Mr. Ling's discussion.

synchroncity: Mr. Ling grew up on the LES and lived in the Vladeck Projects where my father lived. He played Little League baseball at East River Park

Ella At Her Best

This is Ella at her best on youtube, although much too short. A great advertisement for a DVD series from

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Question For Jim Garst

If Jim were alive I would want some of his insight on this: How is it possible for the black and other minority ethnic-racial communities to allow this kind of exclusive (and by that nature, racist) decision making process to occur. In the 60's this was taboo and would have been met with demonstrations. Have we all been bought off by the system, is it a leadership vacuum, is it media control? From a deep throat source at Tweed of I doubt that any of these people are people of color or people who have any community roots.
From: Cerf Chris
Sent: Mon 1/29/07 5:53 PM
To: &All Central HQ
Subject: Departmental Announcements

Dear Colleagues:

Over the last two weeks, I have been fortunate to begin to learn more about the impressive talent and expertise that resides within our human resources department and the exciting initiatives that are underway. I am looking forward to working with the leadership of the organization, including the Directors of our Centers of Excellence, to continue to develop our strategy related to "human capital" as well as to build the most service-oriented, customer-centric, principal-focused organization possible.

While there is certainly a great deal still for me to learn, I did want to make you all aware of a few staffing changes, some of which you may already know about.

Elizabeth Arons will be serving as a Senior HR Policy advisor. Betsy will be supporting critical initiatives on teacher quality. Previously, Betsy served as the CEO of Human Resources.

Larry Becker will be serving as the Acting Chief Executive Officer of Human Resources. Previously, Larry served as the Chief Operating Officer of DHR.

Doug Jaffe will be serving as the Director of Restructuring, Human Capital. In this role, he will be responsible for coordinating all HR-related issues pertaining to organizational restructuring. He will also continue in his critical role supporting the strategic direction and implementation of Project Home Run.

Amy McIntosh will be serving as Chief Talent Officer. In this role, she will work across the DOE to shape a comprehensive strategy and lead key initiatives for recruiting, induction, ongoing development and performance management for talent at all levels of our organization: teachers, principals, leadership.

Most recently, Amy was Executive Director of the NYC Partnership for Teacher Excellence, an initiative linking the DOE with NYU and CUNY to create a new model for preparation of shortage area teachers. She will continue to oversee this important work which will now be directed by Audra Watson, reporting to Amy.

Joel Rose will be serving as my Chief of Staff. Previously, Joel served as a strategic consultant at the Fund for Public Schools where he coordinated the opening of school, supported last year's expansion of Empowerment Schools, and helped to launch several accountability-related initiatives.
Antoinette Kulig will be serving as our team's administrative assistant. Previously, Antoinette supported Michele Cahill's team and has also served as the administrative assistant to two previous NYC Chancellors.

Dan Weisberg will continue to serve as Executive Director, Labor Policy. Dan has done a masterful job guiding our organization through the negotiation and implementation of our collective bargaining agreements. I am looking forward to ensuring his work is effectively integrated into the larger organization.

I am also looking forward to working with Sandra Stein and the staff of the NYC Leadership Academy so that, together, we can ensure that their work is effectively aligned with our overall human capital strategy.

Chris Cerf

Who Am I Kidding Top 28

I erased my January post on this topic since I have updated it quite a bit from the original Top Ten. I'll have to update the logo too: My ideas to improve technology integration in NYC:
1. Archiving posters, along with suggested primary document questions, for museum in a school use. Archiving the digital files so others can use them. Acquiring a plotter and wholesale quantity of foam-board for production to share with many schools. (PS I ran this idea by a Brave New World Network Team Leader, (offering to give away my hundreds of files for nothing). He said, "It's an idea one school could sell to another!"

2. Having a group of teacher/parent volunteers (celebrity guests) provide the voice for digitized read-alouds

3. Providing students with mp3 players with books on tape.

4. Purchasing books that already have an audio and video matching component.

5. Creating smaller imovies with stills and creating contests for kids to see how well they can match up songs with images (either via googling or creating their own via digital photography)

6. Taking a map of New York City and image map the work of students all across the city to show the wealth, vibrancy and variety of life. e.g's: Harlem Live and Tom Beller's Neighborhood.

7. Selecting sites that are important to students in each neighborhood and nominating them as "Places That Matters." (borrowed idea drom Citylore). Image map those sites as well

8. Getting parents and families involved in such a program by inviting them to share their primary documents and link them to the maps. Have scanning stations in schools, "Come one, come all bring us your primary documents." As with idea #1 create "hme made" dbq's to accompany these documents.

9. A kids created mapping New York program with a Neighborhood Map Maker Program.

10. A Timeline of events in New York City History with a Timeliner type program

11. Taking the films available on United Streaming and archiving questions to accompany those films and attempting to match them to various literacy skills.

12. Sharing successes with streaming video of real work in real classrooms and saving tons of money in off site professional development.

13.Making podcasting a citywide initiative. It's easy enough to do. Have kids report on news in their schools or just broadcast 
kids' (and family) created stories. Create booths in schools just as Story Corps did. Likewise make WNYC's a citywide initiative.

14. Piggyback on the media that's current, i.e. If we know in advance that Flags Of Our Fathers is coming out then buy quantities of that book and the accompanying audio tapes. I'm sure the publishers would help with discounted copies. Such a book could engage our high schoolers.

15. Have a citywide story to read (ala Oprah) . I nominate "A Trees Grows In Brooklyn"

16. Make greater use of graphic novels and use comic book maker software to encourage kids to make their own graphic novels.

17. Use PhotoShop to erase the dialogue from scanned comics and then create their own scripts.

18. Take scanned text from stories and then illustrate them with original artwork or appropriate googled images.

19. Make greater use of ebooks so as they can be matched with books on tape.

20. Use the ready availability of onlined song lyrics (including rap) to help with poetry literacy as well as an aid to reading.

21. Use digital movie cameras to recreate scenes from history (you see many illustrations of this on youtube with high schoolers displaying that kind of assignment). This could be modeled after kids see such a money in class, either via a dvd or 
a quicktime version.

22. Flickr has a new Web 2.0 component that allows you to make links from images. This could be done as a challenge to students to make a kind of junior webquest from a social studies rich group of flickred images.

23. For early childhood kids: Using only the video track of digital movies of trips or neighborhood explorations and then have the kids watch the film and supply their own voiceovers. Done with QuickTime Pro

24. Have adults and older kids digitally narrate stories and books so struggling readers can have read alouds.

25. Have the DOE create their own version of youtube to store (and filter) streaming video.

26. Making use of local websites to improve literacy. For exampled,for read alouds, has streamed video combined with transcripts.

27. Making quicktime VR movies ( a relatively easy and low tech, low cost, low data task) with kids to show off their communities.

28. Using Quicktime Pro to make movies that combine image, text and narration. Again, a lower data and memory solution than using Movie Maker or iMovie.

Happy Valentine's Day: Junk In A Box

BloomKlein's Valentine's Day Junk In a Box (and early Chinese New Year) Present for the Chinese community in Brooklyn.
From NYC Educator. (That's a picture of local hero and ICE candidate for UFT leadership, John Lawhead, ESL teacher at Lafayette HS on the left)
"Mayor Bloomberg's teflon armor continues to erode, as Sam Freedman questions his policy of closing high schools and disregarding the needs of the kids who attended them. The schools are supposedly no good (as always, through no fault of the mayor or his minions) and they must go (even if they're improving). The DoE has spoken. That's it. All the failing kids will go elsewhere, and magically become excellent.
But does this policy serve NYC communities? It certainly doesn't serve Lafayette High School's Chinese community. Where will they go, particularly if they're in need of bilingual services? Not Lafayette, because its new "academies" will not be providing it.
It turns out that ESL students don't tend to score as well on standardized tests. Why? Because they DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH. It turns out that if you DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH, tests are somewhat more difficult. And Mayor Bloomberg really ought to make some accommodations for these folks, because even though he's renamed their schools and kicked them out, they still DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH.
Several Lafayette administrators and teachers joined Mr. (Steve) Chung, the president of a Chinese-American community association, in devising a proposal for a school specializing in international studies and submitting it to the department. At a public meeting, residents of the neighborhood lauded it. Meetings with department officials, he said, went amicably and productively.
Then, a few weeks ago, the department announced its plan for restructuring Lafayette, which now has about 2,100 students, beginning in September 2007. It would contain three new schools — one emphasizing sports management, another focusing on film and music, and a third offering “expeditionary learning” under the aegis of Outward Bound. None will offer bilingual instruction, at least at the outset.
“This is an absolutely unacceptable choice,” Mr. Chung said. “These three schools have nothing to do with our community. They’re forcing the immigrant students out of their own neighborhood. New York is an immigrant city, but I think the education policy is not for us.”
This is typical of Tweed--it makes public claims to care about parent input, then does whatever it wishes and gives parental opinions no weight whatsoever. While it reorganizes Lafayette and utterly disregards its immigrant community, it's doing much the same elsewhere:
Several miles to the east, in East Flatbush, something remarkably similar was happening at Samuel J. Tilden High School, which serves roughly 2,400 students. Like Lafayette, Tilden will be dismantled beginning next fall, and replaced by a collection of small schools. Like Lafayette, Tilden has a large population of immigrant pupils, about 250, many from Haiti. That critical mass allowed Tilden to operate a bilingual program in Creole, and its students outperformed peers at comparable schools on various standardized tests.
The new version of Tilden, however, will have one high school run by Outward Bound and another, called the It Takes a Village Academy, that says it will “prepare students for college and meaningful careers while fostering an appreciation for diverse languages and cultures.”
At best, according to the department’s own projections, those schools will take in a total of 50 English-language learners, as students entitled to bilingual or E.S.L. classes are officially known, despite the heavy presence of Haitian and African immigrants in the surrounding neighborhood.
While it may be convenient for Mayor Bloomberg to shuffle these kids around, it's not any way to treat immigrants, and one way or another, we're all immigrants. It's not their fault they DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH, but in a couple of years they'll catch up.
Kicking them out of their community schools, whatever they may be called, is nothing short of reprehensible. It's true their test scores are inconvenient, and that's because they DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH, but they need time.
Let's send Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein to China. We'll have them take the NY State English Regents Exam in Chinese. I'll give them one year to prepare for it. I'll even provide them with the answers, which I wouldn't do for my own ESL students.
And I'll bet every cent I've ever had that my kids outscore Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Klein. It's time to stop penalizing our immigrant population and give them a little support. I'm sorry their test scores are low, but they DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH. They can do everything they need to do in schools, but they'll need a little time.
Is that too much to ask?
In the trade-off for the closing of Lafayette and Tilden, with the net loss of about 800 places in bilingual and E.S.L. classes, the Education Department has announced the opening of only one small school geared to immigrant pupils in the entire borough. And even now, less than two weeks before eighth graders throughout the city must submit their applications to high schools, the department has not revealed the location of that school, the Multicultural High School. For all any parent or child knows at this point, it could be anywhere from Bay Ridge to Brownsville.
It behooves this mayor to do better. I know kids who wake up at four in the morning to trek to our school, and we ought to have fewer, not more of them.
It's cold today in Mr. Bloomberg's New York.

If Dreams Come True: Top 27, Number 24, Done

From my top 27 (and expanding) list of ideas to improve technology integration that I posted in early January : #24. "Have adults and older kids digitally narrate stories and books so struggling readers can have read alouds." Looks like someone is taking care of this over at librivox.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Enquiring Minds Want To Know #2

Over the weekend I got to speak to family members who knew more about Jim Garst. It seems that most of my amateur historical sleuthing was pretty accurate. Cousin Jerry talked about Jim's famous relative Roswell Garst who was a partner of Henry Wallace in a very succesful Iowa agribusiness . I didn't know that Wallace had been a Republican prior to his entering FDR's administration. At the memorial service a Columbia Journalism school classmate of Jim's told how he and others were led by Jim on neighborhood excursions to hear working class hero Vito Marcantonio speak in the early 50's. The Sunday Times' has an article with a review of an upcoming book with revisionist take on Power Broker Robert Moses. I guess it's part of the "times." What we really need are more biographies on the likes of guys like Wallace and Marcantonio.
From Wikipedia on Henry Wallace:
"On May 8, 1942, Wallace delivered his most famous speech, which became known by the phrase "Century of the Common Man", to the Free World Association in New York City. This speech, grounded in Christian references, laid out a positive vision for the war beyond the simple defeat of the Nazis. The speech, and the book of the same name which appeared the following year, proved quite popular, but it earned him enemies among the Democratic leadership, among important allied leaders like Winston Churchill, and among business leaders and conservatives.
Wallace spoke out during race riots in Detroit in 1943, declaring that the nation could not "fight to crush Nazi brutality abroad and condone race riots at home."
In 1943, Wallace made a goodwill tour of Latin America, shoring up support among important allies. His trip proved a success and helped persuade 12 Latin American countries to declare war on Germany.
Regarding trade relationships with Latin America, he convinced the BEW to add "labor clauses" to contracts with Latin American producers. These clauses required producers to pay fair wages and provide safe working conditions for their employees and committed the United States to paying for up to half of the required improvements. This met opposition from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
After Wallace feuded publicly with Jesse Jones and other high officials, Roosevelt stripped him of all responsibilities and made it clear Wallace would not be on the ticket again. The Democratic Party chose Harry S Truman as FDR's running mate at the convention, after New Deal partisans failed to promote William O. Douglas."