With working out, and surprises! On Tuesday, students at Harlem’s PS 161 were working out to a Beyonce song, and got quite the surprise, when the singer herself appeared!!! The students were participating in a national simulcast of “Let’s Move Flash Workout,” an initiative that is part of first lady Michelle Obama’s fitness campaign. It is really wonderful that Beyonce made an appearance at this public school to advocate for fitness. It is also clear that the kids had the best time, and may think of working out differently now, which is also wonderful. However, since Beyonce was in a public school, I wonder why she- and many other celebrities- for that matter have not been vocal about the education crisis? There have definitely been a few advocates, but overall, celebrities have not made their voices heard regarding the education crisis- both in New York and statewide. Now this normally wouldn’t be a problem, but the education crisis is just picking up momentum especially in the form of civic activism, and having a ‘celebrity spokesperson’ would most certainly draw plenty of attention to this serious issue! I would like to nominate Jennifer Garner to take on this position. She is a very hands on mom, who is already incredibly active in Save The Children, and has advocated for more schools in her hometown of West Virginia. I think she would be the perfect person to draw people in to this fundamental issue…THINK about it Jen!

Check out the full article: http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2011/05/04/entertainment-us-harlem-school-beyonce_8448960.html

As a result of the recent  national civics examination released on Wednesday, it was reported that only fewer than half of  American eighth graders knew the purpose of the bill of rights. It was also reported that only about 10 percent of them had knowledge of the checks and balances among  the legislative, judicial, and executive branches. Is it just me or does something  seem off here? Of course it isn’t just me, because there is something off. Students  today do not know their civics!

Thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, schools tend to focus more  on reading and mathematics and in the attempt neglect other subjects, such as the arts, gym, and in this case civics. Questions on the exam covers themes referring to government such as, how government is financed, what rights are protected by the constitution and how laws are passed.  It was reported that the scores seem slightly better than in 2006. In 2006, on average fourth graders scored 154 on the 300 point scale. This year, that score rose to a measly 157 points. Eighth graders, on the other hand acquired the previous  score, which was 151 points. High school seniors were the biggest losers. The previous score in 2006 was of 151  and has dropped 3 points this year  to 148 points out of the 300 point scale.

The results of the test are disheartening. It seems that it is a national trend; students nowadays are being taught nonsense rather than important things. It seemed to be only a New York state issue, to be teaching the test and strictly focusing on subjects such as math and reading, but t it can be that it has gone national. Most of these state test are not in synch with the curriculum that students are accustomed to at school. Most of the test are so far from the curriculum at school, that teachers have to “rehearse” them as an individual unit. The fact of the matter is, is that students are being taught fluff  rather than the important things. Obviously state test do NOT matter. Yes ,they are important because they establish types of grade appropriate principles, but obviously, students today aren’t learning what they should be learning. What’s wrong with this picture America?

for further reading:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/05/education/05civics.html?_r=1&ref=education

Bloomberg and Walcott are advocates of choice. What does this mean?  I’m not quite sure.  First, it meant throwing more charter schools in the mix.  Now it means constructing numerous same-sex schools.  Walcott explains how he is a “big believer” in these schools but doesn’t exactly say why—and the only assumption that can be made is to give everyone more choices when it comes to schools.  NYU and Teachers College have been doing a study on this “choice”, more specifically the inequalities of this choice for black and Hispanic students.  They say that these students have actually embraced this idea of choice and have chosen higher-performing schools than they are currently attending, but very rarely do they find these schools nearby.  This is highly problematic and really uncovers one of the real problems here.  There needs to be good schools everywhere, not just where the wealthier students live.  Furthermore, the article states: “Opening up more single-sex schools in New York will certainly create more options. But will they be good ones?” Sure Bloomberg and Walcott are giving more choices but are they really bettering the school system or just adding in more fluff which neither hinders nor helps the system as a whole?

Read more at:

http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/culture/2011/05/1983937/walcott-and-bloomberg-push-school-choice-whatever-means

I would like to take a break from what we’ve been talking about on our blog and highlight something that I have found to be a real help in keeping children willing and excited to learn. And that would be Children’s museums. Children’s museums have always been really close to my heart. They enable children to learn and play, without really thinking that they are learning. It gives them a space to create another life by pretending to be apart of the world that has been built around them. That is invaluable and sometimes difficult to create in a classroom. I found this in the New York Times article Classroom and Playground, All Rolled Into One by John Swartz. The article talks about how children’s museums are “mixing learning and fun — a neat trick that the best of the museums pull off seemingly without effort.”

One great part about museums is that they are not only expanding in size, but also in the topics of exhibits that are displayed in size. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has incorporated more challenging issues in their museum, such as “The Power of Children: Making a Difference” which tell the stories of Anne Frank, and Ruby Bridges one of the first children to be integrated into the New Orleans school system, among others. Having museums down the path of “tougher issues” is incredible because everyone learns in different ways and having these important lessons, and even regular issues as well, in museums allows students who might have trouble grasping the concepts in the classroom to do it here.

Here We Go Again….

May 3, 2011

If this story sounds familiar, its because it should! Just a few weeks after the gun incident in Texas- remember, a little boy brought a loaded gun to school and injured three people- an eight-year-old boy brought a LOADED 9-mm handgun to his Queens elementary school and SOLD it to a fellow classmate. Yes, that is correct; one third grader sold another third grader a handgun for 3 DOLLARS! The transaction took place at PS 107 located on 45th avenue in Flushing Queens. The boy who bought the gun (he thought it was a toy gun), brought it home to his mother who was livid- I should hope so- and told a school official, who subsequently called 911. The police not only identified the student who sold the gun, but arrested his father and charged him with criminal possession of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child. His son- the one who sold the gun- also faces charges.

This situation is truly unfortunate. Luckily nobody was hurt, but how could the teachers not notice this transaction?! And, furthermore, why is the Department of Education refusing to comment on the situation? This is EXACTLY the type of situation that they should be commenting on, instead of sending Walcott to welcome students back to school, when their school will be closing in a few weeks! This is really disappointing and does NOTHING to reassure New Yorker’s about the public school system.

Check Out the Full Story: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/queens/boy_sells_gun_to_classmate_at_queens_PR7NjQGWR3uwF4jmurbDgP

DON’T CLOSE THE SCHOOL!!! New Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott made a special trip to Brooklyn on Wednesday. Why you ask? Walcott visited the Paul Robeson High School, a school that will be PHASED OUT -aka permanently close- beginning in the fall. Wait….it gets better. Why exactly did Walcott make such a visit? TO WELCOME THE STUDENTS BACK FROM SPRING BREAK! Yes, that is actually why he made the trip. I am not joking. I would imagine that instead of a warm welcome- after all, what’s the point of welcoming students back to a school that will be gone within months?- the students would much prefer if their school is not shut down…Just a thought Walcott! Robeson High School is being shut down because of poor academic performances, which leads me to wonder where these students will end up? Instead of shutting down a functioning school, why not work to improve the education system, so there are no longer continuous “poor academic performances.” However, Walcott promises to create a “network of support” for the students. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? A network of support, is he serious? How about not closing the school. How’s that for support?

After this, if you are paying attention to our blog debate on Walcott I’m on team Ana. Walcott has a LOT to prove, and I suggest he get a move on it…immediately.

If you don’t believe me, here’s the article that this actually happened: http://online.wsj.com/article/AP9c808644040945c8a9aebe1b1c351e62.html

This is a response to the vlog below. Alhtough we should not judge Chancellor Wlacott because he is fairly new at the job, he should have better proposals for public schools. Rumor has it, that he has been around since Mayor Bloomberg has, so that means he has been at city hall for more or less tah  6 years. Unlike the previous chancellor, Walcott has an education background, and knows more about how the New York City Public Education works. With that said, shouldn’t he have a proposed a more creative approach to giving parents more option? Maybe, I don’t know..improving public schools? Just a thought.

Have Faith In Walcott

April 26, 2011

There have been some questions raised about a possible debate about Dennis Walcott and what he has said about reforming the education system. This is a video about my position on him as the new chancellor for NYC Education. Enjoy and feel free to comment or reply with video or audio with your opinion.

Have Faith in Walcott from koreenthemachine on Vimeo.

Of what? Money.  Bob Herbert has been writing for the New York Times for 18 years, he published his last article today and what was it about?  The inequality of money distribution with a heavy focus on military and little to no focus on education.  He explains how the U.S. has misplaced its priorities.  He reinforces this by explaining:  “When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely”.  This is the truth people and we need to face the facts, the U.S. is becoming a place of “limited expectations” and it is only getting worse.  Things need to get back on course.  Why must we have all of these drastic budget cuts, are they really necessary or are they only necessary because our money is going to a less deserving place?  We need to ask questions like these and find the answers because otherwise the distribution will continue down this road and eventually no money will be going to education at all.

Further Reading:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/26/opinion/26herbert.html?_r=1

That’d be a gun. Yes, you read that correctly, a loaded gun. A six year old brought a loaded gun to his school, The Ross Elementary School in Houston-part of the Houston Independent School District. As if this act wasn’t bad enough, the gun went off, when it fell out of his pocket in the cafeteria. According to CBS “A single bullet grazed the 6-year-old who brought the gun, 6-year-old Khoran Brown, who suffered a lower leg wound, and 5-year-old Za’Keyah Thomas, who was wounded in the knee. One of the boys was released from the hospital Tuesday night and the other two students were still listed in stable condition.” That means, this boy injured three students, including himself. THIS IS UNREAL…HOW DOES A SIX YEAR OLD GET HOLD OF A GUN????!!

Apparently, such a question is on everyone’s mind, as the boy’s parents were wondering the same thing! Here’s a thought, if you keep guns in your home, and your child has access to them, that is a MAJOR PROBLEM. As a legal expert notes “”You keep loaded guns around where children can get them, it’s not just a tragedy waiting to happen, it’s criminal responsibility on your behalf, as well.”” This person is absolutely correct, the parents are at fault, but how could the school not notice that this child was carrying a gun in his pocket? Are we going to need to have medal detectors for kindergarten classrooms? This is really, really, horrific and must be investigated. What on earth could compel a child to do this…FRIGHTENING!

Read the full story: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20055667-504083.html