Saturday, February 14, 2009

Only Through Struggle... there progress. Or, an ongoing rumination on the links between sports and education. How often do educators fail to realize that failure, misunderstanding and struggle are part of the learning process? (And I don't mean failure on a massive scale, I mean failure at smaller objectives in the service of learning something to achieve a higher goal.)

I'm starting to believe that the Yankees have a chance again, because I just read some of the stories coming out of their first couple of days of spring training. They have a shot at being cast as the underdog, and nothing riles multi-millionaires up more than telling them they can't do something.

Maybe, like the late 90s Yankees that seem more and more in the distant past, just maybe they will take less for granted this year and go out to try and prove something.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Tragedy Echoes the Old Board

The report highlighted in this New York Times article is damning evidence of the chaos and mismanagement of at least one psychiatrict ward at a municipally run hospital. Although the conditions are more stark, it reminds me of the reason I became a teacher in the first place. It reminds me of how understaffed, overwhelmed and undertrained many school administrators and teachers feel in our least-served communities.

The hospital is glad to report that wait time in the psychiatric emergency room is down from 27 hours to 8. That's like saying that 10 parents attended, or even knew about, the last parent meeting instead of 5. Attendance doubled!

Have no doubts--parents care about their children. Schools need to take responsibility for informing and engaging them in appropriate ways.

The report cites a pair of hospital police's brief interaction with a dying patient in the emergency room waiting room. It may not be obvious, but the observation in the report is tragically similar to a lack of consistency among adults at our schools.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Another War Story: Greasy Palms

I was reminded last week of another very special episode from my first teaching position, at a large elementary school in inner city New York City. I had forgotten that our school was tracked - and all kids, from grades K to 5, were in a class that was numbered indicating how high they ranked. I taught class 308, the bottom class, and conversely 301 was the top class.

After my third year at this school, for a number of reasons I moved to a smaller elementary public school in another part of the same community.

Here's the story: I gave my principal plenty of lead time to know that I was leaving so she could plan for my replacement in the fall. I think I told her in early March. I was expecting some fallout but I wasn't expecting this: "Mr. Sink...if you stay...I will give you the Top Class."

I was being bribed by getting to teach the "smart" kids!

Needless to say, the offer only made me more certain that it was time to leave, and I never looked back.