Mr. Smith's Neighborhood

It's a beautiful day in the Neighborhood for teachers everywhere! Anything and everything is fair game!

What Goes Around Comes Around May 4, 2007

Another week in the books and there are paybacks galore combined with lots of other interesting news. So we take a moment to reflect and hand out the jeers and cheers where they are most deserved.

Bush, No Child Left Behind and Killing Education

George W. Bush visited a very effective charter school in the New York City neighborhood called Harlem last week. Georgie would like to have everyone believe that it was his NCLB legislation that magically transformed education in Harlem into a state-of-the-art model for educators everywhere.

Frankly, Mr. Bush, you are full of s**t.

First, the Harlem Village Academy Charter School should be very proud. The entire community has made a strong commitment to success through learning. From uniforms to well-organized classrooms to highly respectful students, the teachers and administration have made their impact. Using a longer day and assessment that drives the curriculum, they have raised student achievement through methods that all educators have been endorsing for years. Assessment that drives teaching is a far cry from the standardized testing mandated by NCLB (which is just a measure of test-taking, not learning or knowledge).

Education at its very best is a cooperative effort between students, parents, teachers, administrators and the community. Teachers like me can only hope that the public is not gullible enough to believe that successful education is the result of a stupid law that does little more than mandate a bunch of ridiculous standardized tests. For those of us that value the development of the student as a whole person rather than a machine who can fill in the right bubbles on a computer test form, teaching to the test is a sin against the student and the future of America.

The best part of Bush’s post-visit speech was his comment that the federal government has the right to expect a demonstration of the effectiveness of its school funding programs. He feels that this can be accomplished through standardized testing. Now, as a prelude to my reaction, let me state that the only reason I did not break my TV is that it is a brand–new HD flat screen. Rather than rant and rail, I have a question for our lame-duck President … about a month ago, I paid many thousands of dollars in income taxes (not to mention the on-going sales taxes, property taxes, highways tolls, gasoline taxes, excise taxes, Medicare taxes, Social Security taxes and miscellaneous taxes).

Okay, Georgie, WTF did I get from my investment in your administration? You have a highly dissatisfied customer who wants a complete refund for non-performance and waste by you and your cronies. What are YOU going to do about it?

NHL Hockey

Having returned to MSG on Tuesday, 5/1/07, for the crucial 4th game of the Rangers–Buffalo series, I was able to find some of the fun again for a little while. I love the Rangers and their team because they have worked hard to reach this point. Coming into this series, everybody had written the Rangers off except a few of us who saw that the Rangers’ late season transformation would make this series anything but a cakewalk for the Buffies. The Rangers are giving the smelly Buffalo people a run for their money.

Once again, video replay emerged to be a disgusting intrusion to the enjoyment of the game. The Rangers received a favorable ruling, much to the delight of the MSG crowd and to the horror of Buffies everywhere when a possible goal was disallowed. The best part of the call, besides the score, was the look of disgust on Lindy Ruff’s face. He looked as if somebody had squeezed his testicles into pancakes. But, as Ruff later conceded, the Buffies had been the recipient of five previous favorable video reversals.

Even as a devoted Ranger fan, I understand both sides of this coin. Sure, the puck probably went in, but there was not DEFINITE visual evidence that it was in. This controversy causes two important observations to get lost in the shuffle off to the land of the Smelly Buffy. First, this is another example of the NHL ruining the game, reducing the speed, grace and physicality of the sport to the judgment of some geek sitting at a TV monitor in Toronto. Secondly, as Rangers’ coach Tom Renney observed, NOBODY expected that the series would be tied at 2-2 after four games.

And, I must add, I still hate Buffalo. Why stop now?

Video Replay, Part 409

Okay, it’s Game 5, just over 3 minutes left. Marty Straka of the Rangers skates across the blue line and rips a slap shot. Even my 51-year-old blind eyes can see the puck hit the back of the net (HD is wonderful) and my ears hear a dull thud that is not the sound of a puck hitting the post or crossbar. The light comes on but the ref blows the play dead. Fortunately for the Rangers, the video replay shows the puck hitting the camera inside the back of the net. Even the Buffy faithful cannot argue this one.

The Rangers, as they have done so many times before, give up a soft goal to Chris Drury the garbage man, a marginal player and mediocre captain who has made a career of hitting open nets. The game heads to overtime, which means more time to watch the highly uneducated hockey fans in Buffalo. This game likely will be a win for the Buffettes because the Rangers blew their big chance.

There is one moron in Buff Town, wearing a #16 Pat LaFontaine jersey and sitting down near the ice, who stands every time a Buffie player farts or gets near a puck. If it were any other hockey venue, the home team fans would have killed this putz by now. This is another solid reason to hate the city of Buffalo, as if you needed one more.

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Everybody Hates the Rangers

Tom Renney, in his press conference following Game 4, also noted that everybody loves to hate the Rangers. There are times that bandwagon Ranger fans hate the Rangers because it is not easy to cheer for a team that loses with some regularity and such sensationalism. Many of us like to think that we are the most devoted fans in hockey, especially those of us who stuck by the team through the “1940” chants and in the disastrous years that followed the Stanley Cup victory in 1994.To that end, I am happy to point out that the robots and crew of Mystery Science Theater 3000 are apparently alive but not very well, and they’re dumping their spleens out on a web site called Interchangeable Parts. These creatures are no longer trashing “B” movies and cheap cult classics; instead, they trash NHL hockey teams, especially their own beloved New Jersey Debbies. What is funnier is how they trash the Rangers. The insanity of these hockey hacks is that their team has accomplished a great deal since the Rangers’ won the Stanley Cup in 1994, winning three Stanley Cups of their own. Yet, like almost every Devil fan, they hate their own team and only cheer for them because they are not the Rangers. They find more pleasure in the failure of the Rangers than in the success of their own team. What’s wrong with this picture? Thus is the problem of the fan-based mentality of modern sports. Yes, we have all heard of the legendary baseball rivalry of the New York Giants, Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees during the 1950’s … but the argument was about who was better. Was Mickey Mantle better than Willie Mays or Duke Snyder? This was a passion of love, not hate. Yes, I hated the Islanders back in the 1970’s and 1980’s … but then I grew up (however slowly it may have been).

By the way, the typing baboons over at the Gerbil blog are having masturbatory after-glow from celebrating the Buffy win over the Rangers in Game 5 (overtime 2-1). Maybe it is helping them forget that their team is down 3-1 and polishing their golf clubs. In any event, Game 6 at MSG will be a blast on Sunday no matter what happens. The Gerbil blog will be fuming after their team is eliminated tomorrow, at least one day before the Rangers. My hate for Buffalo? I’ll take the fifth!

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Imus to Sue CBS

According to the New York Daily News, Don Imus has a clause in his contract that requires CBS to issue him a warning before firing him for misconduct. Once again, nobody in their right mind would condone what Imus said. He apologized and was forgiven by the girls he insulted, yet CBS fired him almost two weeks after the incident occurred (and following an announced suspension which never took effect). According to the Daily News, Imus will recover about $30 million that remains on his $40 million contract. The good news here is that Imus will win a victory against Corporate America for all of us. Irresponsible management everywhere must take note that they have to stop pushing people around. Granted, Imus is not a pussycat and has a little more clout, power and money than average folks like you and me. Maybe this can be the start of a turn against managers and executives who think they can act like bullies and ignore their obligations.

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2 Responses to “What Goes Around Comes Around”

  1. cityteacher Says:

    That’s a fantastic proposition, to demand that George Bush be accountable for our money that he’s given to his cronies. What a load of crap! Taking credit for the success of a school that he’s got nothing to do with! Reminds me of Villaraigosa, LA’s mayor. On a bus tour of the inner city claiming the success of his programs to transform these crime ridden places, a kid comes up and tags his bus in front of the cameras. He then immediately puts all available resources to “help” this kid and pats himself on the back on television. All the teachers at my school laughed because he hasn’t done S**T for the same kids at our school!

  2. bluboo Says:

    Hi City Teacher:

    I have added a link to your site on Links page, and I enjoy your perspective coming from the Left Coast. Your story is way too funny … it is amazing how the children from our inner city schools are so hard to fool, yet the media and the Bush Administration hoodwink the American public every single day. Bush and NCLB are too damn intent on changing these kids rather than trying to learn about them and understand what they really need (and want).

    Let me share a story from my class. We were watching a documentary about the JFK assassination, and all they wanted to me to do was replay the Zapruder film (showing the graphic parts of JFK’s brains speading out all over Dallas). After the twentieth time, give or take a few, I asked just one question: Where did the fatal head shot come from? Everyone yelled out, “From the front and right!!!!”

    They quickly realized that their experience and knowledge from playing video games and watching TV had given them an appreciation and understanding of ballistics. When I added, “Your government’s official version says that the fatal shot came from behind JFK and from the 6th floor of the Book Depository building, they all had one question: Why is our government lying to us?

    I would bet one year’s salary (oops, I am a teacher so that’s not very much … lol!) to prove that this moment of learning and understanding was more valuable than the results from any standardized test. However, it may not exactly fulfill the Bush Administration’s goals of brainwashing the American public into reducing knowledge into limited parcels of multiple choice and true/flase questions.


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