Summer Vacation 2013. Then a study sabbatical 2013-14. Then Summer Vacation 2014. And now, after 14 months out of school with very few exceptions, there’s one more hour until I’m going back.
The last 48 hours:
Sunday, 8AM Answer e-mails, read news, light breakfast in room, stretch, pack.
Sunday, noon. Check out. Check bag. Walk down University towards the Rogers Centre.
Sunday, 12:30. Front Street by the Rogers Centre and the Metro Toronto Convention Center are adjacent. Yankees fans, Jays fans, and Fan Expo Canada all mixed together, dressed like their favorite character, be they the Riddler, Jeter, or Lind. Who looks silliest?
Sunday, 1PM. Jeter Ceremony. They gave him a trip to Banff.
Sunday, 3:30. Quick game. Yankees lose 4-3.
Sunday, 4:30. Pho Orchid for a bowl of soup. (rare beef). Then cafe sua da, or whatever it’s called. Vietnamese iced coffee. Sweet. I spent myself down to about C$4.
Sunday, 5:30. Express bus to the airport.
Sunday, 6:45. Arrive Pearson.
Sunday, 7PM. I learned that that nifty passport card, good for Canada and Mexico, is only valid for LAND and SEA, not AIR travel. I get a confused agent at pre-security. Then an explanation at Passport Control, and a folder to carry, which they take at Customs and send me into an office, where I get a “talking to” and they stamp my entry stamp on my boarding pass. Then a confused flight attendant looks at my passport card. But I’m good.
Sunday, 10PM. On curb, LaGuardia. Wait half an hour for the M60. Not reasonable at that hour. Bus is packed. Woman blocks access to the center aisle with an empty stroller. Driver announces last stop is Steinway. Then repeats herself, “last stop in Queens…”
Sunday, 11:30. Home. I binge watch House (Season 6, 3 episodes) and go to sleep.
Monday, 9:30. Katie arrives. Pack a little. We drive to a deli, get trail snacks, and a sandwich for me. Pick up Adil and Meryem.
Monday, 11:30. Storm King. Beautiful weather, skies clear for us, storms must be to our south.
Monday, 4:30. Home. We did a shorter loop.
Monday, 6PM. Walk to Garden Gourmet (about 2 miles). Shop. Walk home.
Monday, 7:30. Phone calls.
Monday, 8:30. Binge watch House. Season 6, three episodes.
Monday, 11:30PM, last sleep before work.
Tuesday, 5:30AM… you know… but without an alarm
Tuesday, 7, coffee in hand, write blog post.
Tuesday, 7:15 (right now). Finish post, shower. And the first walk to work…
NEWS RELEASE Contact: Greg Distefano August 28, 2014 Phone: 718 757 4552
Unjust, unfair firing of probationary teachers – give them a second chance.
Tuesday, September 2, 4:30 PM
in front of the Department of Education (Tweed), 52 Chambers Street.
Stephanie (Barchitta) Casertano PS3 Staten Island and
Dana Parisi PS253 Brooklyn,
both discontinued, will speak briefly, will deliver their appeals to Carmen Fariña, and will be available for interview.
Others may join them.
Under the Bloomberg / Klein administration, many principals were hired based on management, not educational/pedagogical skill. While some grew to be fine principals, hundreds remained incompetent and became abusive. And as probationers can be fired without cause, hundreds of probationary teachers were unjustly discontinued and prohibited from working anywhere in the NYC Department of Education.
The teachers here today could work elsewhere in the system – other principals want them. They spent many years of college preparation, and were fired without being given proper support. But they are unfairly barred. They are asking the Chancellor to review their discontinuances. And we urge the Chancellor to review all the discontinuances of incompetent principals.
New Action is a caucus within the United Federation of Teachers.
11 – UFT ally, John Liu, against Tony Avella who once challenged Bloomberg, but more recently joined the IDC to help Klein and the Republicans steal back the senate that they’d lost
31 – long time friend of public education and the UFT Robert Jackson, against Adriano Espaillat. Espaillat was not supposed to be in this race, but his primary challenge to Charlie Rangel failed
34 – Jeff Klein, head of the IDC, is finally facing a primary
Oliver Koppell vs Jeff Klein (NY State Senate 34. Klein led the IDC)
NYSUT – Klein
AFL/CIO – Klein
de Blasio – Klein
WFP – none
John Liu vs Tony Avella (NY State Senate 11, Avella joined the IDC)
NYSUT – no endorsement
AFL/CIO – Liu
de Blasio – Avella
WFP – none
Robert Jackson vs Adriano Espaillat (NY State Senate 31, Espaillat ran because he lost to Rangel in the primary)
NYSUT – Espaillat
AFL/CIO – no endorsement
de Blasio – not sure – probably no endorsement
WFP – Espaillat
Cuomo vs Teachout
NYSUT – no endorsement
AFL/CIO – no endorsement
de Blasio – Cuomo
WFP – Cuomo
I took a sabbatical 2013-14, to study. But I did other stuff, too. Including learning more about teaching. It wasn’t required (Just the graduate math classes were required). I did it for me.
Even before Labor Day, even before the first day of staff meetings that I did not have to attend, I was using my sabbatical. It was early July when me and a friend hopped in his car, and after sampling our way through one brewery in New York (meh) and one brewery in Ohio (nice), and one brewery in Michigan (very nice), landed in South Bend, for a Math Circle Summer Institute.
Math Circles are… well it can be tricky to generalize. They are extra-curricular. They are sometimes led by non-teachers. Some are free, some cost money. Some are geared towards contest preparation. In this country, they are far more often geared towards curiosity and enrichment.
The summer institute drew teachers and non-teachers. The founders/leaders/patriarchs, Bob and Ellen Kaplan, couldn’t make it. A math circle/math community in South Bend organizes the event, and brings kids to play with the participants, and to participate in little circles. I knew in advance myself, my friend, Sue, and Owen. The rest were new to me.
Each day began with a math circle type problem for the adults. The instructor modeled posing the question, but not giving too much information, and letting the teachers and kids play with the problem, ask questions, explore. We worked individually, together, and as a whole room (there must have been 25? altogether. It’s a year ago, I’m a bit fuzzy).
In the afternoons we broke up by level (high school, middle school, upper elementary, lower elementary). There were kids at each level. And we ran daily “math circles” with each participant getting a turn to lead or co-lead.
How was it?
We were playing math all day. You can guess, but I’ll tell you. I had a ball. One of the interesting bits was how few actual teachers there were. I mean, motivated parents who run or want to run circles and university types who want to run or facilitate circles, or people who might become teachers – they were there in larger numbers. That meant there was a sort of freshness and newness to some of the conversation. The mix meant there were people to engage in math with at all levels. But it also meant that there were people trying to rediscover or discover stuff that you figure out pretty quickly in the classroom. It was… interesting. And it was … different. And it was … engaging in a new sort of way. Plus, I made a math-y friend, which was nice for me.
Return to NY – Any impact?
And since? I’ve kept thinking about how the Math Circles organized time, and allowed kids to explore, and to bang their heads against hard problems, without rushing to the answer. I already do some of that, would like to incorporate more of the “feel” into some of what I do.
My friend kept thinking about how fun the circles were. He played with ways to set one up. And he ended up spending time at the NYC Math Circle, hanging around with instructors, volunteering for the summer.
How do you sign up? Should you?
So it’s fun. And you’ll learn stuff. And meet interesting people. And exchange ways of thinking. And get to try stuff out. But it costs money. I paid, but most people… I’d recommend it more for people who can get at least partial funding by their district.
But if you are going to go ahead, it’s a week in July, e-mail Bob Kaplan at firstname.lastname@example.org and get more info directly from him.
I took a sabbatical 2013-14, to study. But I did other stuff, too. Especially travel.
With my classes only on Tuesday and Thursday, I thought I would be out of town just about every other weekend. All of those weekends, by the way, four days long. Didn’t happen. I traveled a lot, and loved it, but cost and reality held down the number of long weekends by quite a bit.
Anyhow, I didn’t know this when I more or less threw a dart at a map, and decided to go to Pittsburgh in September (this is last Fall). With a long weekend a peaceful ride on Amtrak was possible. I used PriceLine to get a downtown hotel for a pretty good price. But I hit a snag. The uptown IND was really out of service Friday morning, September 13 (you can look it up, something bad, just don’t remember what) and despite my creative efforts, I missed the train. Got the next one, but it cost me. And the connection in DC was late… The good news? This was the Cardinal, one of the most scenic trains in the east. My seat mate was a young woman with a minor political job in DC, who loved trains. I had great company right up to her stop,
The rest was a two day blur. I picked out a hotel on Trip Advisor without knowing what one it was. Good deal. Turned out to be the Marriott. And now it is so long ago, that I am having trouble putting my “sights” in order:
- PNC Park. The Pirates lost, but I had a very good seat in a truly great stadium, sitting with intense, yet friendly to out-of-towner, fans.
- The Warhol Museum. Pretty cool.
- Bridges. I think I crossed the Allegheny on two, the Monongahela on one.
- Inclines. Up the Monongahela. Down the Duquesne. With a drink on a terrace at the top, looking over the city.
- Point Park. Lovely. And the Ft Pitt Museum. Too fast.
- Wandered the Strip, the old dock district, and took a distillery tour.
- A walk along part of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail System
And then a return Amtrak train, daytime, lucked out and had nice company again, and a helluva view around “Horseshoe Curve” in Altoona.
It was not as much as I meant to do, and done a little too fast. But what I did, I enjoyed. And if I had thought carefully, I might have wondered if this was going to be a common pattern during my sabbatical year.
It’s usually enough for a bad administrator to leave the system – we are rid of them and their behavior – though for the sheer numbers of abusive and/or incompetent principals and assistant principals in New York City today, one at a time seems hardly enough.
And if they reappear, but elsewhere, as the disgraced former principal of Bronx Science recently has, we might like to point it out, but it does not become our immediate problem.
However, we know that issues of abuse, incompetence, and less than forthcoming statements often accompany each other. And when we can document statements that seem in hindsight to veer from the facts…
Last year, a scandal over hazing of younger athletes by older athletes broke at Bronx Science. There were allegations that administrators, up to the top, were aware. And in the midst of the investigation, the principal announced her retirement.
Now, it wasn’t as if that was the first controversy she’d encountered. Under her stewardship, the atmosphere for teachers at the elite school at deteriorated. Faculty turnover was far higher than at any other specialized high school in NYC. Teachers, bristling under her arbitrary and authoritarian leadership, and noticing that she used an honorary degree to start adding “Doctor” to the front of her name, ran a quack campaign – with ducks, that was then repeated in several versions as student pranks. A special complaint of harassment was brought against the principal and one of her assistants – and an arbitrator found for the teachers. She weathered those storms, though it seemed that she continued to stay out of spite for her subordinates.
In any event, you have a chance to compare what she says today, as she takes a new job, with her reasons for leaving, which she claimed had nothing to do with controversy or an investigation:
“This July I was appointed as principal of Maria Regina High School. I am honored to accept … after spending thirty-five years at the Bronx High School of Science where I was the principal for twelve years, an assistant principal of science for three years and a science teacher for twenty years … As an educator, my goal has always been to excite students about learning and support them as they work to attain their educational goals. As an administrator, I know that I cannot and do not work toward this end alone. I, as principal, am a member of a community. It is only with the work of gifted teachers, involved parents and motivated students that success can be achieved … What I have learned through my years as an administrator is that leadership is a humbling experience…
The principal, Valerie J. Reidy, who took over in 2001 after 23 years of teaching and managing at the school, said she was under no pressure from city education officials and was “not under investigation” in connection with the arrests of three track team members, all juniors, in March.
“Was I happy about the track debacle? No,” Ms. Reidy said in a telephone interview on Thursday. “But is there ever going to be a perfect time?”
Ms. Reidy cited her age — she will turn 65 on Nov. 28 — and financial and family concerns for her decision. Her husband, James, retired two years ago from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, and one of her sons is set to wed in September. She wants to sell her house in Westchester County and travel more….