Category: education

It’s not the teacher’s fault that your son or daughter is failing. It’s not the school’s fault! It’s not a lack of teacher training or a lack of strong teacher evaluation system! It’s your fault</strong. It’s your child’s fault too.

At the end of the school week and when the attendance sheet looks like this-

That blaming teachers becomes a disappointment. Teachers can’t teach your child ifyour child isn’t there.

Think about it and look at the image again.


Sadly, this attendance sheet isn’t the worse I’ve seen. But on Tuesday, half the class wasn’t even in class. That lesson introduced or that skill practiced that day didn’t get learned.

It is asinine to blame the teacher for a student’s inability to do something when the student didn’t do the most basic thing that they could do, which is, show up.

The above sheets were for a class with special needs classified. There were less students so the teacher can hopefully give more support. But how can a person be taughtor supportedif students don’t show up.

This was supposed to be brief. Sigh.

When I hear stories about how teachers make calls home at 7 am to make sure kids come to school that day, I think what the hell? The things that sometimes go into lesson planning? The hours grading and making assessments and wondering how to grow students up to being confidant and capable adults….what of a teacher had to make a wake up call for every student they teach or worry about?

The system is rigged.

[Chester Arthur Kent]


Admission Policy Troubles aren’t new

Admission Policy Troubles Aren’t New

When I was in high school, one of my classmates younger sister was denied admission, and her family sued the school for racial discrimination saying that the policy gave an unfair advantage to minority students.   There were established quotas and they said that Elizabeth outperformed the minorities on the list and should have been admitted.   The suit was settled and City Honors changed   from a single exam to more criteria based assessment.   I’m not sure what the racial make up of the school is like but as a minority there, I know that we were definitely in the minority, especially when compared to the next ranked high school, Hutch-Tech.  I somewhat remember that the next year class looked conspicuously caucasian and that in the back of my mind I had this nagging feeling that some person would come out to question my right to be there.  I wonder if Elizabeth has any minority friends from her high school class.   Imagine her in a class where all the minorities students know that she feels that she should have displaced any one of them.   (Elizabeth lives here in New York City as well.  I ran into her at Target.   She teachers people with disabilities, and I think that awesome.)

I can see why her family would bring the lawsuit up.  City Honors is a public school. It offers higher level classes and in comparison to many schools nationwide it is a beacon of light.   When I think about the class environment or the way I would like to teach, I think of my experiences there.  I had a right to be and it takes a lot of gumption to challenge admission standards from the Zagare’s perspective. I think that the quotas that had been mandated by state law served a purpose so that you don’t end up with a lily-white school.  It’s proven that economic advantages or disadvantages tie into performance in school. In a city such as Buffalo where race and poverty are almost married to each other, nothing good could come of pretending that race isn’t a factor.  Unfortunately, the school decided that race shouldn’t be a determining factor, and that other criteria should also be established.   Which is ok, I think that there should be criteria, but there should be a quota.   As is impossible as it seems, there could be a chance that not enough minorities met that criteria and then you end up with a school population that thought it is supposedly the best and the brightest the city has to offer, it looks nothing representatively like what the city population looks like.   And it should look like the best and brightest of all the city, not just a segment of the city.

Or else you end up  the mess that we have here at the Specialized High Schools here in NYC.

Right now the admission policy for the New York City Specialized High School is being challenged as unfair.  It’s being argued that depending on one test score simply discriminates against minorities.  Newsday reports “Mulgrew said many minority students now excluded from Stuyvesant High School, Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Technical High School and five other specialized high schools deserve to be there. Only about two dozen African-Americans and Latinos were among the more than 3,000 students admitted to Specialized High Schools this year, while they represent about 70 percent of the city’s 1.1 million public school students.” Which is appalling- the numbers speak for themselves.  It simply is ridiculous.   Is it something wrong with the test and the way it’s written?   Are there reasons why African-American and Latino students aren’t performing well enough on it?  Do they need more support or strategies for test taking?  Are enough just not applying?  

Read the facts again- this time from the New York Times –

The numbers disclosed by the Education Department showed that of the 28,000 students citywide who took the Specialized High School Admissions Test, 5,701 of them were offered seats. Although 70 percent of the city’s public school students are black and Hispanic, blacks were offered 5 percent of the overall seats and Hispanics 7 percent — the same as a year ago. Asians were offered 53 percent of the seats, compared with 50 percent a year ago; whites were offered 26 percent of seats, compared with 24 percent a year ago.”

As unpopular as it sounds- maybe quotas should be applied to the specialized High School.  Maybe the Specialized schools should be considered Magnet programs.  Researcher Marcy Crouch reports that  “ voluntary-magnet programs to be successful at reaching racial integration goals and maintaining those proportions. As more cities throughout the United States implement magnet programs not only will students of all races benefit from superior educational opportunities, they will also experience voluntary racial integration which will hopefully provide a solid foundation of open-mindedness for living in this multi-racial country.” The gifted and talented should have a place to go, but again, I think that publicly funded schools should at least honor the public.  I think what sucks is that no minority has filed a lawsuit for discrimination.  I would be highly interested in seeing the arguments for why the specialized schools should remain as exclusive as they are.   At the very least, portfolio  assessments and other criteria must be considered.   Or else call those schools, private schools and let them fend for themselves.

-Chester Kent


Age is not a shield.

Something is wrong with him.

what the fuck?


He knew what he was doing. Try him as an adult and castrate him. Then lets figure out how to make the library safe for this girl and how to restore it as a haven for tales and stories.

[chester kent]

Afraid of Oprah

I admit it. I am afraid of Oprah Winfrey.


I have a theory that everything wrong in my life has been because I once criticized Oprah on a number of things and that somehow she found out and put a hit on me. Ridiculous…I know. I wrote an apology letter and put it in the mail and my cars stopped exploding. Maybe I should question why the various cars I owned kept exploding but that’s not the point.

I am afraid of Oprah because she is someone to be afraid of.

Continue reading

Shame. Shame. Shame. (1)

Cleaning off my hard drive, and my photo cache and felt like unloading some things. I’m a strong believer of discipline and so when I see things like colored pencil marks on a desk after I handed out the color pencils, I feel disappointed in myself.

I mean….look-


I couldn’t find the colored penciled picture I wanted but look at the floor…it’s a total mess. And though I’m not contractually obligated to clean up messes like that I still think it’s wrong.

Double horrible fact of note – this floor was wrecked by high schoolers- not 3rd graders.

Chester Kent

‘Tween Knight

This episode was good……


Not as good as the one that had aired a day before though. That previous episode had the youngest competitior in Tween Jeopardy and she didn’t fail to deliver. At 10 years of age, she fumbled through the entire Jeopardy round- she couldn’t get her answer button pressed and eventually by the end of the round, she had achieved in the red ink.

But then the Double jeopardy round was just where she became the Belle of the Ball; answers she gave were correct. The best she was that she gave all the answers.

And then I read about this brat, who complains about his misspelling of the “Emancipation Proclamation.”   Sour apples.   The unseen judges on Jeopardy generally are fair about their rulings, and so with this child and his parents protest his answer, I think it teaches nothing.  Had it been an essay he needed to write, I would be more lenient but since he only had to write a short proper noun answer, they can suck on eggs.   Hopefully he’ll learn that there are consequences to checking your answer.

Yes, yes, I KNOW THAT WE KNOW WHAT HE MEANT.  So often kids are able to slide by on meaning, because we know what they kind of mean.  However, this is is Jeopardy (I couldn’t resist) and as such, I expect the cream of the crop to be extra sweet.  There line must be drawn.  What if the game had to start taking slant answer?  I can see the slippery slope now.  Answer.  The name of the first Black President.  Question – Who is the guy after George Bush, maybe?  or Question – Who is Michelle’s husband?

Try Wheel of Fortune kid.  Oh wait, that needs spelling too.

Chester Kent

Continue reading

Thoughts of a Teacher  I

I wrote this reflection a while ago…..I just went back to revisit it.  I’m going to split it into parts.   Not sure if it’s any good but I found it cathartic.

When considering the needs of the classroom environment,I have to give accolades to anyone who bears in mind the importance of “Good Morning”  or “Good Afternoon”  “Ladies and Gentleman” and “Boys and Girls.”  I’m impressed with any who can approach  29-37 different critics every 45 minutes.  I’m even slightly impressed by people who can  attempt to do it, a year, or few months of their lives.  Imagine a broadway actor performing multiple one matinees- back to back.   Or watching a Diane Walters delivering the news interactively, and then being responsible for the graphics and the updates.  Every person who enters the classroom and calls themselves a teacher is suddenly a performer who might have to walk a high wire, but maintain a smile for the audience.  Despite frustrations that may arise, it’s important that we keep a positive environment facilitated.

When every day is full of new attitudes and  memos, or late buses, or apathy, It’s taken a lot of guesswork how to keep my stress from being palpable .  The disparity between what my chosen career that I’ve accepted, and what I find when I get to most schools now has irony written all over it.  As it is, I wake up and figure out some way to completely backwards plan a lesson with a group of kids with unspecified grade levels, and keep it interesting but not too interesting that any random evaluator doesn’t think its slacking off.  I mean, the first judges are those next to the time clock.   Those office people so often sullen.  Not only do I have to smile and get them to notice me.  I also have to figure out a way to sell that it ‘s gong to be a great day for me, for the birds, them school office slavers, and ultimately the kids. It is because of such organizational and radical uncertainty that I prefer not to work with younger students.    With it’s a one man show, and they all want autographs.  Unless they don’t because they are too busy getting ready to perform the knife throwing acts!   All these things race through my head before GMA or the Today Show roll credits, and a 9-5 worker has even bid their sweet dreams goodbye are large plates that each part of the meal (the school day) rests way too much upon their classroom teacher.

While Guest Teaching (substituting) a few years back, I accepted a call for a special education spot, and while it was not disastrous,  had there been another hour in the school day, it would have been overwhelming .  I had done my research on reviews for the school, and saw that they had a lot of CTT, and Resource Room Classes.  I had assumed that since my designation was Special Education that I would be the assistant, or lackey to the general education teacher.  I imagined that I would drift, and make sure learning was focused, and that different kids who seemed lost could be re –directed into another direction towards understanding.  What I found in actuality that occurred was that the classroom teacher may have had a dual certification, because there were tons of differently abled learners in the class.

[Continued in Part II]



Chester Kent


This teacher was suspended for advising his kids properly…?

I mean seriously?

Just watch…

teacher suspension

Someone needs a good noggin hit.

-chester kent

The Post gets it right

The Post on Wieners student disciplne policy

The Post is spot on with its assessment of the NYC mayoral candidates. In my experience, the NYCDOE’s student discipline policy have had adverse effects towards classroom management and school environment.
It was a Tuesday, early. My English (ELA) classes were making their ways through “The Monkey’s Paw.” Talkative, and with a few knuckleheads, and a lot of different personalities…It took a lot of different tries but finally the kids were trusting and working with me. But then i HAD A KID LIGHT A FIRE IN CLASS, and he was not suspended. I was near the front of the room helping a small group in that overcrowded classroom,and when Phoenix*** mentioned smoke, and Nicessica** said the same thing, I looked towards the back of the room. That’s where I noticed Hodger*** (best described as the Cookie Monster) and Nedson had a sheet of paper ablaze. It was in fact the worksheet I handed out. But as them room was overcrowded,I couldn’t reach them quickly. By the time, I got to where they were, they had thrown the paper out the window.
So the reason for this story? Despite 31 other witnesses to testify to the danger Hodger** placed us all in nothing happened to him no suspensions, or anythng. I that if Wiener has a plan to dissuade or show Hodger repercussions to his actions, then let it be so.

Chester Kent

(Note – Students names have been changed to protect the Innocent and the Guilty)


Magic and Love

Much has changed since I last posted, and I’ve been lax, idling on spending the rare few moments that it would take to do. Grr.

I have to revisit posts, but I don’t know if I mentioned this school I’ve been at quite frequently. I call it ‘The School of Magic and Love.’ And it really is such- Magic in what happens daily, and love for what it feels like to be there.
At this school, everything is done damned near right as far as school organization (structure and functional day to day existence.) Mr. APorg has it down pack and he runs a tight ship, where everyone knows what they should be doing, and seemingly no one- students and teachers alike are afraid to ask. The Head AP, Mr. Guiding Hand- he hovers, and is seemingly omni present but never in a way that is overbearing or as if he is looking for a way to say “Gotcha.” I have only heard one teacher make a valid complaint about either of them, and wel, the oly thing I can think in regards to that is to say that sometimes we all deal with bureaucracy

Slowly, I’m getting the staffs personalities down. I only want to smack one, and that quite possibly s because I can’t figure it her age so that I can tell how much I want to hit her. She makes chatter chatter, chatter, Penelope (Kirsten Wiig) on SNL style. All the other teachers come and go; all havd been very polite or at the very least, they haven’t rudely stared over me. And even if they don’t know my name, they have seen my fave and proffer a smile- perhaps generic but at least in earnst. And th office support staff never walks by without saying hi.

But what makes the real magic and love are the students. They may not always come ready, but damn they get around to learning. Even the freshman work hard to finish things early to get a sense of revision. This is not a screened school where students test into. And even though District uh and who have first or preferential status in regards to being selected- there are probably more students from Harlem, The Heights, Fordham (from the Bronx) and parts of Brooklyn. I almost confiscated a girls phone because it was out, and thought she was goofing off- but she said to me “I wrote a daft of my paper, the way you showed me on my phone on the way back to The Heights yesterday.” And indeed there on her phone was a paper that she drafted ion her long way home.

Let me reiterate- it is the inquisitive nature of the students, who are that right mixture of mature while still being in high school. They are never too hood too saved by the bell, and I’ve not seen play fighting or any bullying. They all somewhat get along, and don’t mind helping out or working with other members of their family.

More on this school, when its not 3 am, But everyday there Is….

Fuckng amazing.

-Chester Kent