Saturday, November 03, 2007

Flying The Hump With Max Weintraub At Seward Park High School

More of the 10/30 "Noah's Ark Delicatessen" talk of some "alta cockas," two Jewish and one Puerto Rican. We were discussing how the new literacy model in NYC schools discourages teachers from extended conversations on subjects. Mini lessons are stressed and kids are supposed to read and research on their own and then "Share" what they've learned with their partners. The problem is that no matter how good a "de-coder or "phonetic master" you are of the written word, you may still lack the worldly experiences necessary to comprehend what you are reading. Good teachers, who know how to make those subjects come alive, are necessary. Miguel Figueroa was one such master, but the brave new world of tc literacy had no use for him. He was capable of taking the most behavior and skill challenged kid and getting them on grade level and beyond, without rigged tests. Max, a retiree, would volunteer in his class to do tutoring and help get those kids into advanced placement junior high schools. He would also subsidize class outings and the the publication of the school's yearbook and pay for a pianist at graduation. Now, in that same school on the Lower East Side, there's no use for him as well. Either classes are out of control or kids are asleep as they spend the required time reading independently. In addition with the new shift towards principal autocracy that same school has hired a retired crony and hack to be a teacher mentor and staff developer. She actually functions more as a spy and as a former union rep is aware of how to stifle democracy. It's similar to retired IRS agents working in the tax divisions of big corporations. Yet Max still funds an after school program at the same place because he cares about the kids and the barely surviving teachers. I don't think I have to spell out for you what the "hump" at 1938 Seward Park HS was. The pictures are scans from my father's yearbook. In one picture I added some graphics of what was occurring in that year. It's a challenge to get the print visible for the small google video interface.

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