Students, parents, and teachers across New York City are preparing for a challenging new academic year as the public school system embarks on its third major reorganization in five years.
The new structure puts schools at the center of decision-making and creates both opportunities and challenges. Experience tells us it will likely take some time for schools to adjust to the changes. But New York City’s 100,000 public school educators stand ready to roll up our sleeves and work with principals, parents, and students to achieve academic success. Regardless of what the bureaucratic structure is, we know that true partnership is the key to making our schools work for kids.
Is more education the answer, I wonder, as I scroll through the job postings on Craigslist on my super fancy iPhone, a ‘congrats college graduate!’ gift from my parents. I’m reading ad after ad, each sounding like the hand of God reaching down to save me from the dismal abyss that has become my life, but alas, I’m always just a letter or two shy of being the perfect candidate. So I ask myself, should I dig my debt hole even deeper?
Do I really need another set of initials that supposedly decides my worth? BA, MA, JD, Ph.D.?. OMG, will those letters rearrange to spell fulfilling, high paying job with flexible hours and great benefits? Who knows!
All I know is the first degree didn’t spell anything worthwhile, it amounted to something that sounded like ‘nope, try again’ and it landed me right back where I started, in the pink-walled room that I grew up in. Man did life throw me for a loop!
In 2009, I was probably a lot like you. I owned my first small business (I was a painting contractor) and I worked my butt off, yet… when it came to getting new customers, I was pretty clueless. I quickly came to the painful realization that the skills that allowed me to be successful as a painter, were absolutely useless when it came to attracting qualified prospects.
Back then, I didn’t understand that “marketing” and performing the technical aspect of what you do for a living, are two mutually exclusive skill sets. But over time, I discovered that one without the other–renders your business virtually useless, and it grinds any progress you might otherwise be making, along with your cash—flow—to—a–screeching –halt.
But let’s face it, getting qualified leads is a challenge for most entrepreneurs. However, I simply couldn’t understand why every single ad I ran…and every single postcard and mailer I sent out…never worked.
In 1996, California enacted a Class Size Reduction (CSR) program. This incentive program gave schools a special monetary allocation from the state budget to maintain K-3 class sizes to 20 or fewer students.
Classes also had to be conducted as separate groups acting as an independent class, meaning, you couldn’t have a whole class of 30 with 20 students separated out for some period of time during the school day.
A few years later, some classes for 9th graders were added to the CSR program. Now, more than two decades and multi-billions of dollars later, California is broke and according to the California Department of Education, nowadays few schools are able to participate in CSR due to serious local school district budgetary crises.
The average class sizes in California during the 2015-16 school year were as such and continue to climb given the state of the economy. While small class size is wildly popular among teachers and parents, perhaps rightfully so, I’ve always gone back and forth about how much I believe class size matters with regard to student learning.
Recently, Helle Heckmann and Louise DeForest, two experienced educators in Waldorf were in our town for one week. They are traveling through America to check on the Waldorf initiatives.
Helle Heckmann directs a kindergarten in Copenhagen called Noken, also the title of a book she wrote. Talking about her experiences could make a whole post, but you can read here more about her impressions on educating children.
They had a workshop for teachers and I asked to participate.
The most important message I got from that meeting with those ladies, is the importance of the inner work while working-living with children. Our influence on our kids is much more about ourselves than about what we want them to do or learn. They learn what we give as ourselves.
The other day while I was focused on pulling the perfect shot of coffee for a pre-teen who didn’t even look old enough to be drinking a triple vente mocha with whip, I toyed with the idea of having a drinking age for coffee like they have for alcohol, like 18 maybe? Although to be fair I indulged in my share of caramel frappacinos in my teen years, ironically at this very Starbucks.
I remembered feeling so hip sitting in the cozy overstuffed chair in the corner with my BFF as we gossiped and laughed and then snuck outside to smoke Kool menthol cigarettes. So who am I to deny an almost young adult of such a benchmark life experience! Scratch that, no legal drinking age for coffee, but shhhh! don’t tell but I’m not giving this 12-year-old three shots, she won’t even know the difference, in fact I’m doing her a favor.
“That’ll be $3.89 please.”
“Um, okay,” she says as she swings her Coach clutch onto the counter and counts out four dollar bills with French tip manicured nails. More Link
As a parent, all I really want to know is that she’s learning something, and that she’s trying. The only negative comment was that her reading fluency is still a little slow. Frankly, I care more about comprehension than how many words she can read per minute.
So all in all, I guess I can call it a successful school year. We even took a look on color career test that is suitable for kids and I learn she has a yellow personality.
My daughter’s’ father has been absent from their lives for most of this past school year.
I recently talked to him, and was trying to catch him up on all that’s happened and their futures. Naturally, he asked about their report cards. More Link
…I smell crayons. The waxy aroma sends me straight back to elementary school. The back to school shopping for new clothes, shoes, and school supplies. The excitement of putting notebooks, pencils, glue sticks, and pretty folders into my brand new backpack. Knowing I’d see all my friends again. Not knowing it wouldn’t last–that school could be a harsh and unfair place.
…I see snow. Remembering the joy of snow days and having the biggest sledding hill in the neighborhood–until my mom leveled it off during a remodel. Devastation. My Aunt Gwen smearing chapstick all over my face to ward off windburn. Avoiding her house at all costs whenever it snowed, I hated it so bad. An act of love, misunderstood.
I want to tell you a funny story. There is a gas station/mini-mart about a half mile up the highway from my house. I frequent it every week or two, but not to buy anything. Are you kidding me? Do you know how much they want for a box of frosted flakes?
And the gas— give-me-a break! You won’t find higher prices anywhere in town. Nevertheless, it is one of the few convenience stores that I have to say I am honestly grateful for, even if the owners cannot say the same for me.
I do feel guilty though. Oh, it’s not what you think— I’m not a thief, at least not in the standard sense of the word. I simply take full-advantage of the restroom facilities that are offered to paying-patrons, even though I’ve already established the fact that I am not one of those.
I’m not a bum, either, just a long-distance runner, who knows the whereabouts of every Sani-Hut, park lavatory, and high-priced gas station/mini mart along my route. The first two-mentioned places, I can go into without question, whereas with the latter, I tend to feel a little conspicuous. I always have a disclaimer.
My dad didn’t have an amazing childhood, but he never speaks bad about it. His parents struggled through each month just managing to pay for necessities and rarely buying luxuries. His father had been in the war and, from what I remember of him, he wasn’t a happy guy – but he totally adored my nan. My dad had two sisters who we only see at Christmas these days, and spent most of his childhood playing in the street and supporting Manchester United.
My nan died of breast cancer before I could ever meet her but the only stories I hear of the “good old days” usually come hand in hand with laughter, and huge smiles. My dad loved his mum more than anything in the world and we rarely speak of her now because he still hasn’t really accepted her death, even though she passed in the early 80s.More Link