JEREMIAH NEBBISH REDUX

Once in a while Hillman lets me write something on this internet thing. I believe it is called a blog. Not sure what that means or if it stands for something. I have no idea at all. Since Martha died a few years ago, I have been kind of at odds with myself about what I can do for the years, or less, that I have left to me. I am sure that God has a plan and that he will make sure that it comes out all right.

Most of my friends like Glenn Finnefrock, Boots Hadley, and Will Pennypacker have gone on to their rewards. There are still a couple like Joe Fotos, Truman Mills, and Merle Wetzel are still there but they have their lives to live and they are somewhat younger than me. I sometimes go to the County Seat on Main Street in Clarion and see these guys, some with their wives, but I kind of keep to myself after a few half hearted hellos. I take out my copy of the Oil City Derrick and go to the obituary pages and see if my name is in there. If it isn’t, I think it’s going to be a good day.

This getting old stuff is getting old. I have always had my interests in hunting, fishing and the like, but I can’t really get out there in the cold and dampness anymore and my arthritis kicks in like crazy. But there is one thing that I can do even better than when I was younger and that is observe what is going on around me.

Yup, I know that change is all you can count on. There are a bunch of folks who want things to go back to 1954. Some are real sincere about it and think that morality and human relations were much better then. That’s just not so. Eveyone knew their place, some people complain. If that means what I think it means, I don’t want any part of that. It’s nice to see that so many people are now being given a chance that they would not have had in 1954.

This whole political thing is about going back to a time in the past. All of these yellers and screamers about the current state of affairs in our country, would have said the same thing back in 1954 about times past. As a matter of fact, they did. I was there. There was always criticism of what is happening in the present. I can imagine the Egyptians complaining about the Hebrews leaving Egypt about how they wished things were the way they were in 1400 b.c.

That’s the way folks are, most folks anyway. The people with uncommon sense don’t think that way. They think in a totally different way. I knew a real rich man once who came to Clarion in the 1980’s and when told that there wasn’t anything here after the coal companies left, he said, “This is a golden opportunity for someone to come in and do amazing things.” I often wish he would have come here to do it, but he went somewhere else and was very successful.

I always am afeared of people who complain all the time and don’t seem to be able to get off a dime. They come into the restaurant and begin complaining at the door and don’t stop until they leave. They are very unhappy people. I wonder if they ever did anything to stop and fix something. I’ll bet they didn’t.

I guess that I am tired of all the political ads and the bad stuff that they say about each other. There is no cause to do that. Why don’t they tell us what THEY are going to do to fix the problems. We aren’t that dumb. Whoever is going to be Governor of this state will inherit a huge financial problem. No one will be able to fix it themselves. Stop spending money on trying to downgrade the other guy and start working on some plans. Jeez, we have so much unemployment. Let’s begin there and get our own folks to work. Stop importing people from other states to work on the Marcellus Shale stuff . Let’s all work on it together.

I guess Hillman is probably pissed off at me for taking up so much space. But, you know what, I don’t care a whit about his opinion. He thinks too much of himself anyway. Have you read any of the other crap that he puts on here. I don’t believe most of it and the other stuff makes no sense to me. I must say that he does have guts enough to put it on so that others can read it and that scares me.

CHARLIE-A MYSTERY

In late September of 1949, as I lay in my hospital bed recovering from the polio that I had contracted in August, my mom came to visit with an unfamiliar gentleman on her arm. Mom introduced him as Charlie Hillman, the man she had just married. I don’t believe that I had ever met him before. He had worked with my mother at the Alva Restaurant on 14th Street and a short order cook. He appeared to be a kind of nice guy with a pleasant enough smile.

In kind of a sotto voce, mom told me that she was not going to allow her son and daughter (my sister Renee who was now 18) to grow up without a father. My dad had passed away in 1943 and I guessed, at the time, that I was not getting the direction I needed from her and grandma, so she brought in some help.

Charlie looked down at me and offered me his hand to shake. I did so, not knowing what it all meant. I really did not find out about it until many years later. Charlie looked at me and asked if I was a baseball fan. I perked up my ears. I was a rabid Brooklyn Dodger rooter and my favorite player was Jackie Robinson. The Dodgers had made it to the World Series against the hated Yankees. Charlie told me that he had access to some tickets to the subway series and that when I got out of the hospital, he would take me.

How bad could this guy be as a stepfather? As soon as we met, he was going to take me to see the Dodgers in the World Series. I actually got out of the hospital within the next week. It was well in time to see one of the games (only one of which was won by Preacher Roe and the Dodgers). I never got the chance to go. I really never held it against Charlie, that he offered me the chance and never came through. It was kind of a pipe dream of mine that went unfulfilled.

Life grew more exciting in the fall of 1949. Not only did I get out of the hospital, go back to the Yeshiva, we also moved out of my grandmother’s house to a fine apartment in Forest Hills, in Queens, right next to Forest Hills High School. There was grass and Flushing Meadows and kids to play with. We were not in the heart of the city anymore. We had all new furniture courtesy of money that my mother had saved as a waitress. Charlie brought a shiny new car to the marriage and an idea that we might become the owners of a luncheonette in Brooklyn.

Somehow, the luncheonette didn’t work out too well and mom and Charlie lost it all. They may have been swindled out of the $10,000 they had invested in the place by an unscrupulous lawyer. This lawyer was also the person who affected my name change to Hillman. Charlie adopted me at the behest of my mother and I became Arnold Hillman. That happened in the Spring of 1950. Fortunately, it was only a few months after entering public school at Stephen Halsey Junior High.

Charlie pretty much worked the night shift at every restaurant at which he had a job. I had lots of time with him in the afternoons when I came back from school. He would ask how I was doing, insist that I get my homework done, and always listen to what my mother said. That was a constant theme with Charlie, “Always listen to your mother.” It grew to be a mantra with him. He would invoke my mother’s name whenever he thought I was going astray.

His alone time with me came to a screeching halt at the end of April of 1950. It was the entry of my younger sister Sheryl Ann into the world that changed things for all of us. Sheri was a beautiful baby and the possessor of the largest lungs in the entire world. She pretty much cried the entire first nine months of her life. I have a feeling that my older sister Renee’s marriage to her beau Stanley was predicated on her moving out of the house to get some relief from the eternal screeching.

Charlie seemed to be very happy with his new daughter. I once asked him if he had any other children. I knew he had been married before. My mom had told me. He kind of smiled and never answered the question. There were lots of answers like that. Since I have no documents relating to Charlie at my disposal, I have not had the opportunity to understand his life.

I am pretty sure that he was born in Chicago. I cannot be sure what happened to his parents, but he was sent to Russia at some point in his early life to live with an aunt and uncle. The time of that residence is unknown to me. I am pretty sure he came back to the United States before 1917, but do not know what happened during World War I.

He may have been too old to be drafted in World War II, but he told me that he had worked on the docks in a North African city, unloading munitions at some point during the war. He never spoke openly about any part of his life. He was never reminded of his past and uttered nary a word when the war was discussed. He seemed almost to come into the world full born and ready to be a short order cook. Mom may have known things about us that she never told us. That would be her speed. After finding out that I had a brother in 1977 ( the year Charlie died), I was always prepared for mom’s surprises.

Some of Charlie’s attributes were most peculiar. He was an excellent poker player. He would be frustrated when playing when others would speak during play. Anytime we were in a home with a piano, he would amble up (he was very overweight) and sit down and play beautifully. Many of the pieces were classical in nature. He would then leave the piano stool and sit elsewhere. It was as if he were telling us some secret that he should not have told us.

He also was able to speak fluent Russian. I was so amazed at that during my growing up years. I had heard my grandmother and sometimes my grandfather speak it (never together), but it sounded beautiful. Charlie never clarified any of his background to me. There are so many things that I would have asked him. My mother kind of stood in the way. She was not fond of me prying into her life ( and a good thing too).

Carol sometimes asks me if I thought that mom and Charlie loved each other. Since I was young when they were first married and a poor observer of their behavior, I could not really tell. There were moments of tenderness that I saw. I know that Charlie defended everything that my mom did, even to her relatives. So there must have been something there.

As I look back at my life with Charlie, I can say that he was a “good guy.” I don’t recall him ever raising his voice. He was a good dad to my younger sister and was very proud of her and loved her dearly. Sheri and I have often talked about trying to find out more about him. We could write to the Department of the Army and get copies of his 201 file ( that’s what they called the personnel file when I was in the Army) and check out so many things. Maybe we will do that someday. As of this moment Charlie still remains a mystery to us all.

SCARY PHONE CALLS

We have our business in our home. My wife and President of Bright Futures Unlimited receive and make a myriad of phone calls both day and night. Since we have, and still do, run two large scholarship programs for rural students. Our evenings sometimes end with a student at Mansfield or Morehead State calling us about a problem that has befuddled them and need a fast answer. Usually, it winds up being a long phone call and a few tears. That’s all kind of expected over the past ten years.

Recently we have been getting other phone calls that are mostly annoying and cause us to call the phone company and ask them to block certain numbers. These are the calls that begin with, “Hello Arnold, this is Mary, you remember, we talked last year about how happy you were to buy our light bulbs.” I have learned to say thank you very quickly and hang up the phone. I have even resorted to saying, “ Can you just wait a minute,” and put the phone in the drawer of my desk till I need to use it.

Another ploy from these callers is to tell you that they are conducting a marketing research survey that would only take a few minutes. At first, I believed the caller, but when he/she started telling me that my purchasing decisions were bad, I hung up the phone and forgot to say thank you.

Recently, a popular phone company has called a number of times to tell me about a new service that combines, voice,internet and t.v. into a glorious package. These wonderful folk would be in my neighborhood in the next few weeks to see some of my neighbors and wouldn’t I want to see them. I was tempted to say, if I see them, I will get into my car and run away.

The credit card companies are even more insistent. Not only do they send you copious advertisements extolling the virtues of their low interest rates, but they are always calling to tell me that I can earn millions of points to fly to any resort on any of the planets in our solar system. I have not succumbed to their entreaties.

Because of the silly season, I have gotten many calls from candidates, mostly asking to speak to my wife, because of her party registration. They never ask for me because I am a registered independent ( or as I have now found out unaffiliated). They are very pleasant people, but insistent about giving them money because their candidate can fix mostly everything in the world that has gone awry- from the economy to canker sores.

However, the topper of them all and the scariest is when a United States Senator calls and tells you who to vote for. I get kind of annoyed at that. Somehow that is a bit intrusive to my way of thinking. Their voices are mellifluous, but it’s a kind of phony thing because we all know it’s recorded. It is, once again, a marketing tool and really not a good one.

When the President of the United States calls, I am astonished that he, and it has been a he for the past three Presidents, has taken time out of his busy schedule to record something just for me. It is a thrill indeed. I talk back to the recording and ask for him to send me an autographed picture. Somehow, he never responds and I don’t send him any contributions.

HATE HISTORY??????

If you are like most people who took history in high school or college, you couldn’t wait to get through with the class. You memorizes dates, names, places and insignificant ( to you) facts. The sheer boredom of going through the Kings of France ( Louis the Pious, Louis the Fat, Louis the Guilt-ridden), Ethelred, Ethelburt, all of the signatories to the Declaration of Independence, the battles of World War I, the Civil War, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and now the first Gulf War, the second Gulf War and on and on and on. Don’t forget this will not only be on the mid-term, but will probably be on the regents exams( for those of you from New York State).

So, we tire of hearing about history and watch it sometimes on the Nazi Channel ( or is that the history channel). The figures run through so fast that you are pretty much asleep at the end. Not much seems to happen in history that appears interesting or even noteworthy. It was all in the past and why should we be dwelling on the past, when there is so much to do here in the present to prepare for the future.

You see, that’s what most people say. Let’s forget about history and work on the problems of the present. There are so many of them. Yet, there must be a reason why they teach all of this crap to kids. Someone thought and still thinks that it must be important enough to spend time on. Or maybe I am smarter than all of those people who write those books and develop those curricula.

A few years ago, I got a call from Bob Falk, a superintendent of schools in the Otto-Eldred School District in the far Northwest part of our Commonwealth. He told me that a businessman, Tim Roudebush, was considering creating a World War II Museum in Eldred, PA. Whoa, what did you say Bob? Mr. Roudebush, a very successful businessman in Kansas City and had his roots in Eldred. His dad had run a munitions factory ( bombs) in Eldred during World War II and he wanted to give something back of value to the community and spark the interest of people in World War II.

I spoke with Mr. Roudebush and he asked if I would consent to be on the Board of the Museum and kind of help him with information about the Eastern Front during the war. He also was interested in me spreading the word about the museum to the rest of the state through some of my political connections. I agreed to do that. I did try and spread the word to as many people who appeared interested, but did relatively little with the Eastern Front.

Tim did so much more with that topic that he won a huge civilian honor from Russia- the St. Alexander Nevsky medal. It is the highest civilian award for a foreigner that Russia doles out. If you go on the museum site, http://www.eldredwwiimuseum.org, you will see all of the wonderful things that Tim and his folks have done since 1996.

Tim Roudebush has this fear that because of our lack of historical perspective, we will forget about what happened back then and will repeat our mistakes at some time in the future. His fear is echoed by George Santayana who said that “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.” It is a somewhat hackneyed homily. However, Tim is right. The study of history is so very important to us all. Despite the slogan that only the winners write the history has no meaning in this context.

I am not sure if any other generations had any more hold over the past then those who are now in power. Are the lastest XYand Z generations any more or less interested in what has happened? Which of us has read any of the current books by David McCullough? Does anyone really give a rat’s behind about John Adams? How is it that only certain people know what the intentions of the founding fathers were? Why are we in the Middle East? Are the problems with Israel just started, or have they been going on for thousands of years? What’s all this stuff about Muslims? Where did our hatred for Russian and Communist China go to?

All of these things are very current, but are so steeped in the past. One cannot really understand our sending drones into the Pakistan highlands without having some background of Pakistan, India and the area. How is it that we don’t realize that India has the largest population of Muslims?

As a former history teacher, it was easier to get out the newspaper and teach history from the most current of news stories. I could get a rise out of eighth graders in the 1964 election by asking them about the number of states in the Union and when they joined the U.S. A. When I told them that Frabning was the 51st state it caused a furor and enabled them to do some research on their own. Nowadays, it would take them a second on Google to get the answer.

There are so many tools to learn about how we got from where we were to here. If people are not interested in history it’s because we have not learned how to make it relevant. There are some teachers who are able to do it with a flick of the wrist. Some are still giving out names, dates and places. And, by the way, what’s wrong with parents both teaching and learning about the past.

I have had this told to me by people of all ages, “It was before my time, so I do not know about it.” My answer, “ So the world began with your birth and nothing significant happened before that?” Begin with your own family’s history. That will be a great beginning.

THE NEW BUTINSKIS

Without any responsibility to the public for its actions, private foundations of all stripes are now the new “mavens” of public education. They have always been a force in private education. Now, with massive resources as the wealthiest of the wealthy, they are meddling in public schools with an attitude that bespeaks of “topdownism.” worse than any bureaucratic system.

These are folks without any restraints who are trying to change the entire face of public education to suit their own philosophies. I learned a great lesson from the wealthiest person I have ever come across- H. Gerry Lenfest, a billionaire many times, over who told Carol and me that his aim in giving away his money was not to change systems, but to change young people’s lives one by one. He would do that by giving them opportunities that they might not get elsewhere. For 10 years he has done just that and continues to do it and expand. The results of his giving are phenomenal

Gerry learned from his former boss and mentor, Walter Annenberg, who also attempted to change the public school system in the United States, that there was much more of a chance of doing things by helping individual people. It was a less -on well learned by those who work for the Lenfest Foundation.

Directed giving is something new in our country. The fascinatingly wealthy are now telling their consorts to give the money and what to do with it. It is no longer the Pugh, Heinz or Rockefeller Foundation model of general giving in certain areas, but the specific desires of the giver to change some system or other by massive funding in a specific way.

Eli Broad has made in his money in a number of different ways. He was in real estate, investments and other endeavors. He was a summa cum laude graduate of Michigan State with a liberal leaning and still gives sums of dough to liberal political candidates. His philosophy, according to the Broad Foundation is to instill entrepreneurship into the management of urban school districts. He gives dough to schools each year and has a management program that lasts 10 months.

The Broad Management program purports to take CEO’s from various other endeavors, military, business, and fields other than education and train them to work in urban school districts in many capacities. The most notable graduate of the program is Michelle Rhee, who recently left Washington School District because she did not want to be the focus of the reforms.

Let’s see, you come into a troubled urban district and you beat up on teachers, close neighborhood schools, tee off everyone and you don’t want to be the focus of the reforms that you are attempting. The baseball bat mentality has been tried before and does not work.

The Gates Foundation goes even further. The attempts to put privatization on the front burner is a repeat of Chris Wittle and the Edison Schools. The billions used by the Gates Foundation to affect national policy have seen its way up the ladder to the present administration. Let’s close bad schools, fire bad teachers, create vouchers so that those who can leave the bad schools can go to good schools. Let’s create these charter schools where everyone can get a good education.

Here are some interesting new developments. A Century Foundation study of the Montgomery County (MD) schools shows that high poverty schools don’t do as well as poor kids do in relatively middle class schools. All the schools have the same resources, except the high poverty schools have extra help. Did you ever hear of such uncommon sense? Put kids in a middle class and desegregated school and the poor kids do well. It almost boggles the mind.

Contrary to the Rhee and Joel Klein ( ersatz Broady in NY), the Economic Policy Institute’s Richard Rothstein writes that focusing only on school quality and nothing else can only account for about one third of children’s progress. He believes that our economic catastrophe and the level of unemployment among the
urban poor is much more significant.

You also can’t teach children who are not in school. A person who worked in Philly told me that he was assigned to take a look at one of the high schools in the city. He went there twice, at the behest of the school district ceo, and found that about 20% of the students were in the classroom when school started and as the latecomers were allowed into school, the whole auditorium filled up.When I taught in a New York City high school in 1961, we began the year with 2400 students and ended the year with 1300. We graduated 50. It was not one of the premier schools in the city.

A former superintendent of the Reading School District told me that in a number of his elementary schools, 85% of the kids were transient. They started out in the school at the beginning of the year and migrated to another part of town by the end of the year, sometimes even twice. Even though his dropout rate was miniscule, there were only 15% of the kids who stayed the whole year.

So let’s evaluate teachers on the basis of how they do with the kind of children that I described above. Using high stakes tests to evaluate a school or a school district is not the way to do it. Recently a superintendent of schools in a rural area told me that he was put on the state watch list because of all the children in the school, one group did poorly. That was his special ed. kids. The rest of the population did really well. He was not too happy about how those kids did and aims to improve their scores. He was forced to write to the parents of the children in the middle school that they could opt to go to another middle school in the district. THERE ARE NO OTHER MIDDLE SCHOOLS IN THE DISTICT.

YOUR STRENGTHS

For most of your life, you have been faced with tests, critiques, evaluations, and public disclosures of your weaknesses. If you are old enough, you have gone through countless job interviews and know how it feels when you don’t get the job. There does not seem to be any rhyme or reason for your success at these interviews. Your success or failure at what you have tried (except being someone able to throw a 70 yard spiral, dunk, do flexibility exercises, or do quadratic equations) is still probably a mystery to you.

If you are in anyway like me, you have not really had to find out about why things came out the way it did. I am not at all self-evaluative. I have taken all the Myers-Briggs I can stomach and still did not see any relationship between the results and what seemed to me to be important to my life.

A number of years ago, Carol and I ran into a staff member at Mansfield University who told us about something called Strengthsfinders. It was developed by the Gallup corporation for large businesses. It is not used for hiring or evaluating employees. The survey elicits responses that show your talents ranked in 34 themes. Talents are “recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behavior than can be productively applied.”

It can tell you so much about yourself as a functioning human being and has you look at your attributes in a different way. So you are deliberative in how you do things. You are careful and use good judgment in making decisions. You don’t come out and tell people about yourself until you know them well. You are not really tentative, but not fearful of action. You listen to others and see things that others do not see (paraphrasing the deliberative theme).These are useful tools for someone who might be in the research field or planning an operation.

When the staff member from Mansfield came to translate our Strengthsfinders outcomes, I was shocked at how close he came in describing my actions. The 34th talent was deliberative. He told me that was rather unusual. I am therefore an almost completely intuitive thinker and actor. I have always known that I was a gut decision maker and here this strange inventory told me that.

Carol was also pinpointed. The report tells you your five most outstanding talents. Carol’s was spot on. Her manner of operation was ideation – the fascination with ideas. She seeks connectiveness from disparate ideas and concepts. That is so like Carol so as to be scary. My # 1 talent was input- that accounts for my fascination with trivia, school finance numbers and collecting things and people. I like to travel and see new things and filing it way in my mind.

Each of the 34 talents then is applied to what kind of job you might want to take a look at. It is not a specific job, but one that would match you talents in a general way. The example of the perfect talent for a job comes from one of our McKelvey Scholars.

In the last year of the Mckelvey program, we asked the kids to do the Strengthsfinders survey. Kyle, who had been one of our mentors, took the inventory and came out with a number one talent called WOO. It is the only acronym in the bunch of 34. It means winning others over. Here is a description of Kyle.

He is a nice looking guy who is now a senior in college. He does well in his studies. However, during Camp McKelvey, there were always 20 or so new scholarship winners hanging around him all day long and at night in his room. When he walks into a room, people just seem to gravitate to him. I am not speaking about charisma. There is something so attractive about him, that people seem to be at ease with him. He is neither forceful nor outspoken. I would describe him as the ultimate, “nice guy.”

He has a job in the alumni office of his college. He really isn’t a fund raiser of any kind, but the alumni who deal with him, seem to give more money than other alumni. One elderly woman gave $2,000 to the school having never given anything before. I told him that I would get him a job as a development officer at a college.

Strengthsfinders is fascinating. I am not suggesting that you all go out and fill out the survey, but it is really something pretty different.

EDUCATION- THE SCOOP

For those who continually tell us that we should be using the business model to run schools, I say that famous old Yiddish word, “FEH.” There is no direct translation, but it comes through as a bad taste in your mouth when you eat something that is disgusting. You can also think about it as throwing up in your mouth. If those images don’t get to you, then you are someone with no affect.

The business model relies on comparing a public endeavor, supported only by public taxation and surrounded by a myriad of laws, with a business model that is supported by private capital and is not responsible to the public or politicians. The rules for public schools come from the state legislature and current administration. They have nothing to do with a business model, whose existence depends on a bottom line profit. Public schools must have a zero balance at the end of each year.

Yes, public education is mostly determined by voters, legislators, governors and currently more each year, by the federal government ( even though there is no mention of education in the federal constitution). Local school boards, elected by local people are supposedly in charge. However, in recent years, school boards and local people have had much of their control wrested from them by the governments. This is not how a business model should work, even if you call your local superintendent, a CEO or some other euphemism.

The anti-public education people have been around since public education started in Massachusetts in the 1830’s. At first it was the private tutors to the rich, the religious schools, the big wheels, who were not interested in an educated electorate and the really cheesy people who did not want to spend any tax money on the rough hewn folk.

Those people are still around. They have been carping at public schools since the beginning. The birth of public education in Pennsylvania was almost snuffed out by the legislators a year or two later, when the forces of illiteracy and private education rose up to try and strike it down. They did not succeed.

There was a language problem in some parts of country because a language co-terminus with English was German. Since English was going to be the lingua franca of the public schools, the German schools would not be able to compete. That set of folks has since died out, but the anti- English Language Learners are still around. Why should we teach kids whose first language is Spanish to speak English properly, no matter what the method?

The private boarding school folks are not part of any public education lobbying group, they continue to exist, as they have for a few hundred years, as a bastion of excellence and a haven for those that can afford it. They do an incredibly great job for a major bunch of bucks (some at $45,000). They take no tax money from the electorate and operate behind a curtain of privacy. They have their own sports leagues, travel programs, extracurricular programs, and parents who are willing to fork over the dough when the bills come. This is a choice for those who can afford it. However, many of these schools also provide scholarships to less fortunate kids and are pretty benevolent about it. However, they are out of most people’s price range.

The great number of private religious schools fall into two large categories- the fundamentalist schools and the mainline religious schools, especially the Catholic schools. The fundamentalist schools do little lobbying for any extra dough from our government. The Catholic schools want such things as vouchers. Their schools are losing kids by the bushel basketful because of the tuition. Many kids, who would have gone to Catholic schools in the past, do not go there now, unless they are in an affluent suburb. The traditional ethnic churches in the middle of the cities are dying out.

The major influences on public schools have never been the teachers, the school boards or the administrators. It is now a purview of the Foundations. Bill Gates has now influenced education across the money with his billions. His influence goes beyond his own abilities and has affected the current administration in Washington D.C. Of course we understand that many city schools are not doing well. The overwhelming poverty, one parent families and deterioration of infrastructure has done them in. The city schools, at one time were the envy of the nation. Foundations are responsible to no one and they know it. The good ones understand that they must work in tandem with the entities that they gave the money to, the self-aggrandizing ones know all of the answers.

When the middle class (of all colors) left the cities, they took with them most of the wealth and taxable’s. Having spent most of my adult life in rural areas, it is hard for me to go down to where my grandchildren live in Loudon County, VA and find a huge band with 10 marimbas, vibraphones and xylophones and think that all schools are equal and why are some schools doing better than others. How silly do you have to be not to see these things?

Yet, take a look at the new things that the new wave of reformers are suggesting- charter schools ( the studies are pretty negative about outcomes and what about the kids who don’t get in, and the resegregation), bashing teachers a la Michelle Rhee and others ( that’s really great, the “good” teachers probably are just as afraid as the “bad” teachers), No Child Left Behind ( also called No Child with a Left Behind- test the kids to death and see what comes out- you can really tell who the good teachers and the bad schools are with this method- once again the business model- bottom line), let’s go back to the way things were then philosophers( 50% dropout rate in 1950- physical jobs in the toilet, no special education, no vocational education, no lots of things- bring back the one room schoolhouse or even better, tutoring to the rich- which is really the aim).

Do you really think that educators create all of these things? They are now pushed by those in power and many of them have no idea what a classroom looks like. Give me good teachers, a good curriculum, a safe school with adequate resources high expectations and responsible leadership and we can really succeed.