As we head to the end of another school year, summer vacation time for the “School Scope” is around the corner. I took over “School Scope” from Howard Schwach in 2003 soon after he became Managing Editor of The Wave. Howie had been doing “School Scope” for around 20 years and his work in reporting on education was the reason I started reading The Wave in the first place. I could never live up to the work he did covering Rockaway local education and producing vivid commentary on broader education issues. My writing emanated from my activism in the broad educational struggles, coinciding with the Bloomberg takeover of the schools. I have been retired during my entire time writing the column. Howie gave me total leeway and as much space as I needed. Sometimes too much space. People would tell me they would get lost in my prose and barely understood what I was writing about. One guy comes up to me in the gym all the time and tells me he has no clue what I am saying. “You need to read Russian,” I tell him.
Sandy changed things for everyone in Rockaway. Certainly The Wave was affected. Howie left and Kevin Boyle took over as managing editor. When I began to write “School Scope” after the paper came back, I had little interest in writing about education. I wanted to write about the storm and its impact, as just about everyone else wanted to. Once the impact lessened, I found myself continuing to write about other subjects. The “School Scope” logo seemed less and less relevant to what I was writing. Non-educator friends would tell me when they saw “School Scope” they just skipped reading as they had no interest in education. Retired teacher friends would say the same – “Enough already, I put 30 years into the DOE and never want to hear a thing about it again.”
Kevin put me on an 800 word diet, which forced me to focus. He didn’t outright say it, but I think he believed that non-local school stuff just wasn’t of interest to most Wave readers. He tried to en- tice me into working with local schools on stories. I had some mild interest but not enough to get me off the couch to actually go to these schools. He opened discussions with me about broadening my writing beyond education issues. We bandied about ideas for a new name for the column with a broader stroke.
Over the past year I have become more involved with the Rockaway Theatre Company (RTC) both on and behind stage. I began another column, “Memo From the RTC,” chronicling the work of the amazing people at RTC do. Sometimes I get confused about which column I’m doing which week. As I did the RTC column I more and more realized that Kevin was on to something. After all, I am writing about education every day on my blog: ednotesonline. The two or three Wave readers of my column could just go there to read about education.
I was coming up with some brilliant names for column, like “Norm, The Nattering Nabob” or “The Kvetch.” And then Kevin left to conquer the world – before we got very far in our discussions. So, at this point I will talk to the new editor, Mark Healey and Publisher Susan Locke about the future of “School Scope.” Or the “Nattering Nabob.”
I will continue to do “Memo from the RTC,” which by the way has begun rehearsals for “Gypsy,” opening July 18. I ran into director extraordinaire Susan Corning in the grocery one morning. “Do you want to be in the show?” she asked. I had immediate visions of doing a strip tease. “There are a lot of tiny little parts,” she said. DRAT! But I jumped at it. I play Mr. Goldstone. Only one scene with no lines. I sit in a chair and a bunch of people dance around me trying to feed me Chinese food. Perfect.
OK, I’ll stop Kvetching. Send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to let me know where you stand on the School Scope issue or if you have ideas for the name of a broader based column. “The Idiot” is already taken.
If you’re still a glutton for punishment, read Norm on education daily at ednotesonline.com.