2011-06-24 / Columnists

School Scope

The Longest Day
Commentary By Norman Scott

Norman Scott Norman Scott I’m writing this on the morning of the first day of summer. When summer officially hits at 1:16 p.m. I expect to be in Times Square taking a Bikram yoga class with well over a thousand other people (I’ve been ably prepared after a decade of Anita Ruderman’s classes at Hot Yoga on Beach 116 Street.) The first thousand people who show up get a free mat and a water bottle so I gotta write quickly or I’ll be doing yoga on concrete.

Following that I’m heading to the NYS Supreme Court on Centre Street for a rally supporting the NAACP/UFT suit to keep closing schools open, including Beach Channel (where the grad rate went up, which was noted on NPR), after which I’m off to a press conference with parent and student groups at the Tweed Courthouse at 3 p.m. where they will present alternative budget and revenue raisers. An ad hoc group in Staten Island held a standing room only town hall meeting last week where all kinds of wasted money was found in the city budget. (See my June 19 blog post-ing for a list.) At 7 p.m. it’s off to Bloombergville (the current incarnation of the famous depression era Hoovervilles) at City Hall Park where education activists have been sleeping in and rallying. The website bloombergvillenow.org/says: Since June 14, people of Bloombergville have been camping out across from City Hall to oppose major cutbacks in social services and thousands of layoffs by the Bloomberg Administration. Bloombergville has maintained a presence of a few dozen to 150 people around the clock within view of the Mayor’s office. We’re students, activists, and concerned citizens, average New Yorkers most affected by the $400,000,000 of proposed cuts to the city’s budget. (For a fun Bloombergville video: http://www.you tube.com/watch? feature= player_ embedded& v= v2 TimS0t_ VQ)

It should still be daylight when I roll back into Rockaway. But drat, tomorrow the days start getting shorter.

Yes, Let’s Throw Money at Education

I appeared as a guest, along with fellow Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) pal and parent activist Lisa Donlan, on the WBAI program “Ethics on the Air” last week. I was asked about fixing schools and I offered the simplest advice I could think of: double the staff – teachers, social workers, guidance counselors, aides, paras, custodians. Whatever it takes. A caller asked, “Isn’t that just throwing money at the problem?” “YES. When have we ever really thrown money at the prob-lems in education? Why not try it?” I suggested we swap the defense and education budgets and see if America is a better place for all its citizens after a few years. I find it interesting that a recent study funded by the right wing suggests that reducing class size is not cost effective. But a billion dollars mate-rializes out of thin air to bomb Libya. On the first day one of our super hundreds of million dollar planes crashed. How many fewer kids in a class would one of those suckers fund?

“The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman” reaches six continents and 50 states

Our GEM produced film has gotten almost 2000 requests from teachers, parents, union officials and even from school superintendents – a demonstration of the anguished deformers and their propaganda film “Waiting for Superman” have caused in education circles around the nation and the world. And people are not just watching in the comfort of their homes, but are setting up viewings in schools, libraries, churches (there will be a showing in a church in Baldwin, LI this Sunday) and larger venues. I have to share this email with you, perfect for a day I’m taking a mass Bikram yoga class:

Thank you for sending that DVD all the way to India – we really loved it and feel solidarity towards you guys. We hope it’s OK if we make many copies of it and pass it around. Of course we don't plan to make it a commercial venture, more of an awareness campaign. Some of the issues facing us in India are different but some issues are exactly the same; so this video would help in raising awareness.

By the way, one of us has written a parody of "We don't need no education" by Pink


We don’t need no education

We don’t need no school control

No corporatization of the schools now

Corporates leave those schools alone! All in all

You don’t fit in there at all!

We don’t need no education

We don’t need no system control

No market driven voucher schemes

Privates leave the public alone! All and all

You don’t fit in there at all!

We don’t need no education

We don’t need no mind control

Plans and rubrics made by others

Let teachers figure out things alone! All and all

You don’t fit in there at all!

We don’t need no education

We don’t need no performance control

Market driven indicators

Leave complex teacher rating alone! All and all

You don’t fit in there at all!

Best, Jagdish & Sriparna

When Diane Ravitch saw this email she tweeted it to her 13,000 followers with a link to order the DVD. Looks like those 4000 copies we had made up will be going, going, gone.

Well, I gotta go and start practicing saying “namaste” so I blend in with the thousands of others. I may just be humming “We don’t need no education, we don’t need no school control” throughout the class.

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