Pinto Owners are People

They’re kinda ugly-the Pintos, that is. And it’s been a long while since one has rolled off the factory floor-thirty years or more? So you have to imagine if one is still being driven it has left much rubber, many years, and many miles behind. It’s the type of car Jay Leno probably does not have in his warehouse-of-cars collection-nestled between one of the McLarens and a Jaguar (I now know its pronounced Jeg’-yoo-ahh…but maybe that’s only on the other side of the pond).

But should we pass judgment on a car that might be good enough to get someone to work and back, to get their kids to school and yet is not good enough to make it into the Leno collection? When you see a Pinto parked in a neighborhood in decline, or in front of a home that looks as if it’s in disrepair; or if you see a family piling into or out of one (rust around the wheel wells and a bungee cord holding down the hatch-back trunk, maybe even a piece of cardboard duck-taped over the space where a window used to be), cigarette dangling from the mouth of the man climbing into the driver’s seat with a fistful of scratch-off lottery tickets in one hand; four kids, all looking a little unwashed, squeezing and climbing into a backseat that has room for only three…No-you shouldn’t pass judgement.

While knee-jerk judgments might be made about people who spend money on smokes and scratch-offs while their kids skip breakfast entirely, eat bagel bites and boxed mac and cheese for dinner, and hope the “free and reduced” will fill the hunger and nutrition gaps…it is the impact (not the details) of living in poverty that needs to be considered-not how you feel about the people living in poverty and the choices they make. We can’t pass judgment on the decisions people make because they have to, or feel like they have to.

We should, though, counsel those who ignore forces feeding into poverty, and those who dismiss the impacts of poverty-especially if they do it to suit an agenda. I will call them the swollen ticks on the ass of society, for want of a better term. Take, for example, Walmart. Lauded for the willingness to employ, for its profits, and for the founding family’s willingness to support the undermining of public education, the corporation is often overlooked in terms of its genius business model. They have found a way to have taxpayers subsidize their fabulous profits as well as their mission to create more poor people and keep them poor. Their wages are so low that workers often need food stamps to survive. That absolves Walmart of the guilt that would gnaw at your average non-nightstalker because: “Hey…the taxpayers will help feed their babies!” The good news is that you can get real cheap stuff at Walmart-which makes keeping people poor less of a burden on your soul, I guess.

Do nightstalkers have souls? I guess that’s writing for another day.

Where it becomes suspicious, even dangerous, is when the approach to things like education reform is formed and framed carefully by those who live comfortably distanced from poverty. This means they are unfamiliar to any practical degree with the jobs and situations they comment on, and are also protected from the agenda they promote. So while some applaud, for example, Campbell Brown’s efforts to highlight an imagined army of pervert teachers using tenure to protect their sicko inclinations as well as their professional ineptitude, I view it with a mixture of caution, regret, and a pinch of sympathy. This approach is the mac and cheese of the privileged; their cheap-n-easy go-to. That’s all they have because they can’t/won’t and don’t want to do the real work; because they don’t really know what it’s like to have your choices limited to “this” car and “that” food; because they make their money within the very system benefiting from poverty to begin with! If education reformers were to participate in a more truthful and comprehensive examination of what is behind the “reform” movement, and why reform is really needed; if they committed themselves to finding a cure: they’d be undermining their purpose (which is avoiding those cure-conversations and focusing instead on an efficient and marketable prescription-thereby protecting the system that is and pays them to protect it).

But in time, strategies that lean in to profit and away from people are exposed. Consider this description of how Ford negatively impacted their own reputation with their private take on customers:

Much of the negative sentiment toward Ford was in response to their use of an economic risk-benefit decision making analysis which found that the cost of a recall would outweigh the value of the lives it would save.

So for the same reason you cannot pass judgement on the Pinto family, you can’t justify judgement on the nightstalkers. It’s economic risk-benefit. It’s what they know. They move from one unsuspecting endeavor to the next, and as one host is bled out or fails, they are promoted to/shifted to/ pop up in another opportune location with a formula, a sure-fire plan, a consulting position and some talking points to buttress their value… It’s like soulless immortality in a way-and the ultimate in job security. But sooner or later, people who know better find out.


And Pinto owners are people.

The road to…well, some place kinda hot

Did Ken Salazar really get tapped by Hillary Clinton to head her transition team? Ken Salazar??? This gives Hillary Clinton absolutely no street cred in progressive city, or as having potential as a friend to the environment. In fact, In an article at The Intercept, authors Zaid Jilani and Naomi LaChance write:

“As a senator, Salazar was widely considered a reliable friend to the oil, gas, ranching and mining industries. As interior secretary, he opened the Arctic Ocean for oil drilling, and oversaw the botched response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Since returning to the private sector, he has been an ardent supporter of the TPP, while pushing back against curbs on fracking.”

The writers continue on to describe Salazar’s history of advocacy for the fracking industry, and blatant denial of the harmful effects it has on the environment and on drinking water (despite EPA findings). So this latest Clinton-pick is one more incident that conflicts with her posturing as a progressive-posturing brought on largely by the pressure of the Sanders campaign. At one point in the contest for the Democratic nomination she even began waving her arms around and yelling-trying to act like an angry old socialist-Jew, and indignantly proclaimed her progressive-ness. It seemed that Sanders style and his questioning her “for the people” credentials (considering speeches to big banks that raked in a lot of cash, vote for Iraq war, deference to Wall Street…) started to resonate too much and Sanders had gained traction in the polls. So what to do? Start claiming to be progressive, and one-hundred-percent for those things you never have really been for; say that you supposedly said things you probably never said (like told those banks to “cut it out”); pretend that you are against that other stuff that Sanders fans seem to really not like.

What ended up happening, though, was a refusal to release the transcripts of the big-bank speeches (speeches that those bankers paid her obscenely well for), a crooked establishment-fix win despite all denials from the establishment, and a lot of mistrust of Hillary Clinton.The problem? There was already a real, honest progressive taking part in the contest-and it was Sanders, not Clinton.Clinton just could not, cannot, and seems to have zero ability to come off as genuine or consistent with herself. It is a problem that dogs her, and in my mind means far more than Benghazi.

While a DNC fix from day 1 (and even before?) and primary voting shenanigans may have helped preserve a win that had already been reserved for Clinton, you would think recent revelations verifying these suspicions as facts would prompt some real progressive reform movement from one of the two most unpopular presidential candidates in history.Quite the opposite: Clinton seems even more entrenched in the establishment and the political/economical status quo. By airlifting  Debbie Wasserman-Shultz out of nomination-rigging disgrace and into her personal fold, then picking Tim Kaine for VP, and now the Salazer pick…Clinton reveals that she considers herself having graduated from presumptive nominee (a position she has likely held since 2008)to pretty much the presumptive next president of the United States.

Here’s the thing, though. It would seem that she can afford to be so presumptuous. Clearly the fix was in against Sanders and any other opponent in the primaries. And now? She is running against the other most unpopular presidential candidate in history. You couldn’t make it any more easy for an un-trusted, disconnected, elite, establishment, Democrat-in-ballot-line only if you had planted a sure loser for him or her to run against. The only way to make it easier would be if the opponent was not only unpopular, but behaved like a narcissist moron and said the most god-awful and idiotic things.

Hey…wait a minute.

But back to being a progressive. As a criticism of Clinton’s sudden urge to put herself out there as a progressive (when it looked as if it might poll well), Senator Sanders said:

“You can be a moderate. You can be a progressive. But you cannot be a moderate and a progressive,” he said. “Most progressives that I know don’t raise millions of dollars from Wall Street.”

A true progressive is interested in change- progressive movement away from an undesirable status quo. Our nation has slowly been sacrificed the “free market”-an economy that grows on paper for the few, but loses opportunity, stability and security for the many. Even the “hope and change” president is enthusiastically selling out our jobs and our schools to the “global economy” through the TPP agreement.The status quo approach to the masses has been accepting and being grateful for what little you have, and competing against others with little-hoping to take some from them.

Clinton, along with the help of Obama’s trade agreement, Salazar’s love of Earth-busting, and Wall Street’s ability to buy morality, will definitely make “progress”…but in what direction and down what road?

Is anyone else feeling a little warm?

Morons in education policy in N.Y.

Oops…I meant “More on education policy in NY”. Silly me.

It appears that the willingness to place those with little understanding, experience, connection or empathy into positions of influence over education policy is fairly common. I don’t care if you are Joel Klein telling make believe stories about a scrappy disadvantaged youth nearly lost to the mean streets of the urban jungle in Queens,  or John King telling stories about a childhood where it was only a great teacher that was able to save his life, the need to legitimize and lend weight to the opinions and experiences of those entirely unlike today’s public school students is sad.

The Klein thing is just a joke, please, but I do say  Mr. King losing parents so young is tragic. Still, imagine if all children had families that were educated, valued education, and set you up to be the type of student accepted into Harvard. The need to so weakly and ineffectively craft stories of desperation and struggle to prove that an elite few has more to offer regarding educating the neediest is transparent. It appears the “boots on the ground” aren’t welcome-but that’s nothing new.

But back to the morons…I mean more on people in education policy. This is a share, not mine, but it has to do with education policy in New York. I think it is a fine example of the foolish and clueless talking points used to deflect from honest conversation about public education. Whether it’s puffing up your tough, scrappy, disadvantaged, no chance but for one great teacher bona fides, or this Senator Marcellino who pridefully defends his position with empty and even dangerous claims and non-facts.

Enjoy and thank you to Bonnie F. Kelley Buckley and rosemary Garofolo.

Senator Marcellino is chair of the education committee in the NYS Senate. Although you may not be in his district, his position impacts all of us who care about public education in NYS and our future since children are the future. Please read and share widely.

Yesterday Bonnie F. Kelly Buckley and I had an appointment to meet with Senator Marcellino (Senate education committee chair) to discuss our concerns regarding the graduation requirements in NYS. Many of you may not aware that NYS no longer has a general diploma. All students, regardless of aspiration or ability must pass required regents exams in order to obtain a diploma in NYS. So the boy who wants to be an iron worker, plumber, electrician and the girl who wants to be a hairdresser must pass these 5 required exams including one in English written on a 14th grade level. Thats right 2nd year college level.

In 2015, more than 15,800 students, over 1,400 on Long Island, completed 4 years of high school without receiving a diploma as quoted by Newsday June 12, 2016.…/vote-monday-may-ease-path-to-diplo…

I discovered first hand Carl Marcellino is completely out of touch with reality. He is another elitist who needs to be voted out. He is the most arrogant, rude, ignorant individual I have ever had the displeasure of wasting my time with.

Senator Marcellino was so rude, arrogant and quite frankly ignorant of the current state of education in NYS. I now have another mission to add to my list. That mission is to bring awareness to what an outdated elitist he is so that James Gaughran defeats him in November. He said that he was being interrupted when in fact he was so disinterested that he was the one being rude and interrupting. He never allowed either Bonnie or myself the opportunity to lay out the real facts of the current graduation requirements and our full proposal for resolution. He threw us out of his office right after I respectfully called him out for his obvious disinterest in what we had to say. I told him that he could have lied, pretended he was listening (this was after he threw us out) and his response was that he doesn’t lie. Well, I for one don’t believe that for a minute and neither will voters who care about public education in NYS. Oh and one last thing, I along with many others, will be directing NYS students who were unable to achieve a HS diploma due to failing Regents exams to Senator Marcellino for that list of “1000s of living wage jobs” he told us about so that can begin a prosperous future.

Please read my friend Bonnie’s blog. She has written this meeting up much more eloquently than I could.…/ive-be…/

Arrogance and public service don’t mix

I just heard this story through a Facebook contact on the page “Multiple Pathways to a Diploma for All”. It is discouraging to think that this is how citizens and voters are represented, but sadly Carl Marcellino seems to be one more representative wed to an agenda and divorced from the facts when it comes to education policy in New York.


*******Please feel free to share, spread this information. This man should not CHAIR the committee for EDUCATION in our state, in fact he should NOT be re-elected.****** I experienced a first in my life today, I was tossed from a NYS senator’s office. Senator Carl Marcellino (R) agreed to meet Rosemary Garafolo after she basically badgered them into answering an e-mail.(First rude thing) we met him at 11 in his office and from the moment he sat down it was clear he didn’t want to hear a word we said. He was absurdly ignorant of what is going on in education, considering he is the EDUCATION chair. We discussed how NYS Grad requirements are absurd. We discussed the cut scores that render regents exams a hysterically bad joke. He claimed that the reason we went to this policy (as a state) was because “better universities across the country were refusing to admit NYS students because we had no standards.” I challenged this remark, I told him I’d never heard such a thing and he sneered, “Well you learned something new today.” He further opined that we just can’t hand out diplomas for attendance. (Condescending, mean spirited, ignorant) We said that isn’t what we are saying but he had absolutely no interest in listening to anything, PARENTS who reside in NYS had to say about EDUCATION. He also informed us that there are, “Thousands of jobs, that pay a living wage, for people without diplomas.” I told him that was untrue. In hindsight I wish I’d asked him for a list. And where that living wage would afford someone to LIVE. (Certainly not in one of the most expensive places in the US) Rosemary tried to explain why we were there but he kept interrupting. And then got angry when Rosemary pointed out that he wasn’t listening. And then he told us to, “Get out.” In my entire life I never thought I’d see the day that a PUBLIC SERVANT would be so rude, disrespectful, ignorant, self serving or dishonest as NYS senator Carl Marsellino. He does not DESERVE TO SERVE
. ‪#‎rememberinnovember‬ ‪#‎diplomacrisis‬ ‪#‎nopublicservant‬


Is Mr. Marcellino your Senate Rep? Whether or not you agree with the writer or the rep-unacceptable for one who assumes a public service position. It is this arrogance that is epidemic in education policy and those held up as reformers.

Support N.Y.Assembly Bills

”It Takes a Village”. It’s the title of a book written by a regrettably presumptive and chronically evasive presidential nominee, but also true. All people involved make some difference in the lives of my three daughters as they navigate towards adulthood. But not so long ago, public education became the sole focus of accountability for their outcomes. Our leaders ignored or entirely avoided the social, economic and moral decay facing communities, families, parents-to-be, and children. Instead we are all served political theater with a side of demands that public schools be accountable.

This approach may be the result of their ignorance of issues confronted in schools never attended by them or their children. Or it might be intentional. After all, the kind of systemic reforms needed are ones that make even leaders and presidential front-runners afraid (and calling for them can get you labeled “liberal”, or wore yet:  a “Democratic Socialist”!). It could also be the result of arrogance. Growing up in assured economic security, attending elite schools and having well-connected friends in business and politics: these can partially blind a world-view. At best, it could be just a sense of entitlement resulting from any one of or a combination of those things. Regardless of cause, the way non-educators speak with such presumption of expertise on how learning happens, is demonstrated, and can be adequately evaluated is glaring.

Take, for example, this quote from David Coleman as he addressed NYSED in 2011:

“The only problem, forgive me for saying this so bluntly, the only problem … as you grow up in this world you realize that people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think.”

 Coleman was talking about the need for the new standards and about how schools had gone so wrong with the type of writing school children had typically done. His statement is ironic because he clearly has grown-up in this world and believed we should give a shit about what he feels and thinks about public education and how it’s done. So maybe in his case it is arrogance. Coleman was dubbed “the architect” of the new common core standards, but the last time I remember someone being called “the architect” it cost over two trillion dollars (and growing) and a couple hundred thousand lives. So I watch politics and policy closely for such nonsense euphemisms and waiting for more respect for all those previously mentioned folks who matter so much to my kids and me:-those “village people” (not the band).

The good news: N.Y. Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi and Senator Joe Griffo have announced sponsorship of three bills: 1) for more fairness and local input in teacher evaluations, 2) repealing the school receivership system, and 3) for more open and transparent state testing.  These bills can be searched by number on  (A10056; A10057; A10058, respectively). They appear to be the type of legislation that is more respectful, inclusive and understanding, and I urge readers to consider supporting them.

“Opt in” hasn’t been earned

I have seen several articles now, with tone ranging from dismissive to despair, about parents who are demanding better for their children than an economists approach to education. Schools are not intended to be a testing ground for the next best money-saving or money-making idea. Public schools should prepare students for the world that is, while empowering them to make it the world they want it to be. Unfortunately, the deference to data and standardized tests as the last word on the value needed and value gained allows the least accountable in power to deflect accountability onto the powerless. Below is a response to a recent Times Union editorial that echoed the hopelessness of reform-minded testing advocates who seem not to believe that there is a better way. A link to that editorial is included, but has suddenly become available only to subscribers. I have quoted a couple of statements and you will likely get the “gist”. 

The so-called “opt out” movement is not some pointless effort driven by impossible to please agitators. While your April 5th editorial (“It’s time to opt back in”) rightly describes some of the progress that has been made, it’s better to think about that progress like throwing a glass of water on a house fire, and the focus on standardized tests like using a thermometer to discover where the heat is coming from. Yes, the water was a nice gesture, but defending and promoting the tests is like saying that thermometers are the most important fire prevention and fire-fighting tool. It doesn’t take an expert to know better.


“Yet this week, as annual standardized tests are given to more than 1.1 million children, opt-out proponents are pushing for yet more parents to let their kids sit them out.

To which one has to wonder: Why?”

Why? If you need to ask then you haven’t thought about it very hard or talked to someone who knows. Real progress will be realized when our leaders separate themselves from viewing children as investment data and tests as a way to justify a sorting, de-humanizing approach to young people and future citizens. My three daughters, 17, 14 and 11, are not allowed to get out of anything just because it is difficult, and their accomplishments and efforts (both academic and personal) extend into the community. I cannot describe the efforts of NYSED, our elected leaders, or even teachers unions with the same level of respect, and I have ongoing communications with all three.

“This is essentially what teachers and parents were demanding. It’s a major course correction that will take time, but it is under way.”


Parents are demanding, teachers are hoping because they are the professionals who have continually been sidelined. While tests should remain an important facet of an education, the real test will be if leaders will join with parents and educators in shared accountability for the whole child, not just a test score. That’s what I demand as a parent, and expect as an educator that understanding how learning happens.


“So the opt-out movement needs to accept victory. In all the ways that count, it won. The challenge now is to opt in to the task of making this work.”


There is no victory until policymakers take a collaborative seat at the shared-accountability table to talk equity, opportunity, and holistic approaches to our developing young citizens.


Hillary doesn’t like “Opt out”

Hillary Clinton wouldn’t “opt out”.  That’s according to her visit with the Newsday editorial board. Exemplifying why union leaders jumped into the deep end of the Hillary pool early on, why teachers would question the honesty and integrity of their union leaders and this candidate, and why thinking parents everywhere will be left to wonder who to vote for.

Hillary apparently:

…opposes evaluating teachers based on student test results as long as the tests are flawed, and thinks the question of whether they’d ever be good enough to rate teachers on is too hypothetical to answer right now.

and believes that:

the creation of the national standards was a bipartisan idea of the nation’s governors that practically everyone supported.

[Here Newsday adds: “She’s right. Until kids started failing to pass the tougher tests and meet the tougher standards, everyone was in favor of them.” in typical suburban mom shame-style]

On rating teachers with tests-once they become “good enough”-“Too hypothetical” is a weak escape route. How about “Tests alone cannot adequately define or measure the most important things teachers are obligated to do in our most challenging neighborhoods and with our most challenging students.”

The thrust of this article was to show that Clinton wouldn’t support the opt-out choice for her own granddaughter, but I imagine that children this supported and enriched would not have too much problem with the tests, anyways. Yeah, you can try to prove something regarding opting out and give an eighth grade math test to a dufus mayor, town council, or a school board here or there, show that they won’t do it, or don’t do so well and say “Aha!”…

But the real issue is that the tests are often developmentally inappropriate for your average child and are designed in a way to suggest that a Clinton grand-baby type student is the standard we should expect of all children.

Well of course the children of richy-rich world travelers will do well and their families may not mind tests- they know their child’s ivy league future from the moment they are born. As long as they get a warm, experiential, gentle type of schooling that merely enhances the life they get outside of school-what’s a little test? (“Just shows how smart my kid is compared to “the poors”, but I already knew that”).

The charter school peddlers love tests, because their whole focus is test performance and if they design their enrollment and programs to target scores they will perform well on test-score comparison to traditional schools left serving the general population.

Maybe when the push is for needs-based funding and equity in opportunities and enrichment, the investments come for community supports to help families send students to school ready to learn, and the effort is put into a holistic form of accountability that measures the future citizen (not market-ready worker bee)-then we can talk about valid assessments to measure impacts of instruction-as a piece of shared accountability.

It takes a village- right, Hillary?