Category: Teaching


Admission Policy Troubles aren’t new

Admission Policy Troubles Aren’t New

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/1998/05/13/35buff.h17.html

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

Today’s quote –

Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others

-Plato

When I read this quote the first thing I said to myself if “Who knew that Plato would be into Inclusion and Inclusive education?” For those not in the know, “Inclusion education” is exactly what it sounds like. Children of all different abilities (or some with disabilities) are included in the same classroom. The textbook definition of Inclusion education will tell you things about the “Least Restrictive Environments,” ratios and “IEP’s.” What anyone needs to know is that it’s a way to merge general education and special education.

I’ve seen some classrooms where inclusion works. The children work together to help each other, and the weakest members of the class or those classified as disabled work well with each other. Two years ago, I built an a truly inclusive class. I poured hours over an oversized class roster. I checked the list of IEP’s and considered the student without them. The 21 students in my class rocked and rolled. They cared about each other and their assignments. They worked pass language barriers.

And then I’ve seen classes where the teacher is overworked, and the class size roster is near its limit and the amount of education being done amounts to snapped pencils and frustration by all.

But focus not be good, right? Especially since all education is moving to inclusion being the norm. Plato’s quote is something for all teachers really. Who doesn’t believe that all students have the capability to be good students. Good teachers do. They worry and stress that maybe they haven’t gotten their points across to their classes. Students do know genuine good teaching. They look forward to the test and sense of accomplishment that 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

Really?

This teacher was suspended for advising his kids properly…?

I mean seriously?

Just watch…

teacher suspension

Someone needs a good noggin hit.

-chester kent

Jimm Kimmel

WATCH AND ENJOY TEACHERS!

jimmy kimmel nails it

Hilarity.

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)

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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

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The Barking Dog in Room 298

[This story happened a few months ago.]

The first time that I met this little B—–, she was in fact a littler b—–; she had not grown into a full own b—–, But the roots had been planted at some other Bronx school that I couldn’t stand. She was in 3rd or 4th grade back then. The odds were against me liking her back then because i’m not a fan of the pedagogy used at the elementary level. Its a different type of coddling, and I just can’t do it. In theory, as she has aged, I probably should have like her a little more. Different school, different parts of a spectrum- new beginnings. After the day I been having, a familiar face would be nice. Surprisingly, in the class of 32 kids, I discovered that I had encountered about 13 of them over the years. We all laughed about it, and my science lesson on the different levels of the atmosphere (ozone layer, exosphere, thermosphere, stratosphere and troposphere). On a day where seemingly all the deans were absent, there was calm order. The environment was productive, and what you’d imagine at a school. We progressed through the lesson, the students laughed at my rudimentary drawings of the planet. Unity, kumbayah, and all was good,

Until a little dog decided, she wanted to play. But as this wasn’t the time for fun and games, I did what best I could to indulge her. Threw a few questions her way specifically. In fact, I tossed out several bones during my mini-lesson. But the little doggie, only started to bark louder. It was distracting to the entire community, and it became apparent that this little puppy with her cherry red lipstick…well, she obviously is in heat. And as her barking became a major problem , it occurred to me. I really can’t stand this little puppy. I want to give her more of a chance, being that she’s only in 6 or 7th grade, but the damn thing kept yipping, and. it became apparent that I might have to put the bitch down.

[Note: Explicit language might not be edited out all the way. I am also sorry that I’m speaking about a little girl in such a manner but she did, and these are my candid thoughts..]

First incident, this bitch, tried to ape me. After deciding against engaging her petulance, she began cutting me me with her eyes. She began foaming at the mouth, deciding which of my ears to Mike Tyson. Her bark became charged with ignorance, and the intent to be disobedient and deny my simple requests.. For instance, when I asked her to take a sheet of paper out, she in fact stood up defiantly, and then decided to chew on some other students paper. (Literally.) When I asked her to take a seat (as she had wandered around the classroom, in search of more people to distract with her barking) well, she purposely began to bouncing up and down as if I had offered her a treat, and when asked about her own dignity, as we ask children or our pets that obviously could not answer because they haven’t the words yet to do so- she finally decided to take snap and bite at me…

And the only way to stop a dog from biting you is to put your hand down it’s throat. Or make sure you kick the hell out of a bitch. Since I couldn’t do those things, I…..

[Part 2 will tell you what I did.]

Chester Kent, who won’t be bullied by a barking bitch.

In the next part I will detail how

Since overseas or else where than here in the USA, you would know.
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Jumper

Jumper

I wish you would come down from that ledge my friend….you could cut ties with all the lies tha you’ve been living in….”
Jumper, Third Eye Blind

And the rest of the lyrics are “and if you do not ever want to see me again, I would understand…“- I had never really understood them until I was thinking about a quote to open this post. Last night, I watched the second part of the Degrassi episode “Bittersweet Symphony.” Which detailed the the various characters learning about Campbell’s suicide. It was sad. It was brief, and it was anticlimactic. I feel as if the first part of the episode was directed with sensitivity to Cameron in mind, but the second part came from a groupthink of the other characters. There was shock, disbelief, misunderstanding, Aspergers influenced remarks and ultimately a finality. End scene. Life or death, when it comes to moving on, sometimes a Noun – a person, place or thing that we cared for, well moe times than not, they aren’t going to make it with us or be there, at the finish line.

I’ve dealt with death, and suicide a lot more than most people have in my age group. Or at least that’s what I tell myself, but to be honest, I don’t know. I know so many things about people but I don’t know that I can testify about the really dark places inside if someone doesn’t call me. I know the places I do and the places I fear of letting myself go to and I worry that involving other people in the journey would make them see me as less. Which is ironic because often times when we reach out to others it’s because we want them to see us as something more than we can see ourselves as. Does anyone.so really want to be known as the dark and twisty friend that is also known as Debbie of Daryl downer?

So I get it. I get how Maya, his girlfriend could be angry. I get how she felt that he betrayed their friendship and their bonds, and how she felt that that their friendship and relationship was something hard fought and magical. I get how she realized how she would feel without him in her life. I get th scurrying and planing of the student council. There are other things I comprehend; the list could go on. But anger at the dead is in itself ridiculous. Because a dead person with a time machine is still dead. Lodging guilt at someone overwrought with guilt is equally as ridiculous. Because the dead can’t change things.ONLY BY LIVING CAN WE TRY TO KEEP THINGS MOVING AND TRY TO KEEP THE THINGS WE LOVE TO KEEP GROWING.

The alcoholic’s anonymous pledge says things about forgiveness and I suppose that those things are true, but if there’s one thin I’ve learned in m life, it’s nothing about forgiveness. It has nothing to do with my dreams and hopes, about my brother not dying from cancer, or living happily ever after; It doesn’t matter if I have a great observation. Or I discover a new planet. What I’ve learned is that , no matter how happy or depressed I get- THE WORLD KEEPS TURNING. it is far bigger than I myself. It has often been hard to remember that through all my own personal tragedies that there are other things that kept living and that I would have missed these things – these wonderful moments and sights if I let myself give in.

The world keeps turning even if there’s an alien invasion or Miley Cyrus occupation. The world didnt end when the first nuclear bomb went off and after there were people in Nagasaki and Hiroshima who were burnt by radiation and had to keep it moving. There were nights when my brother passed away from cancer when I thought my entire life was ending. And I watched the people around him feel the same. I have days like that still. People aren’t supposed to die from incurable cancers at 26 in 2010. But they do; he did. Hardly breathing, we did. Breathe.

He probably wanted to live, but despite his will- didn’t. I posit that suicidal urges are like an incurable or returning cancer. Sometimes there’s just only so much a body can take. Most of us know that there is only a finite number to what I can I’ve given and what I can give. So, while there is a subtle difference, there are perfectly unimaginable and awful answers to “How much more can be taken from me?” And I believe that as some say it’s a god willing people taken from this life, maybe, it’s ok to accept that some people just gave it all. Some wounded animals die.

[Chester Kent]

Editing needs to done further but I speak my truth.