Sunday, June 21, 2009

Standing a Chance

Minding the Education Gap

I arrived at the school Monday last week. It wasn't much to look at, and has indeed been slated for demolition next year. Rows of nearly windowless, low rising redbrick buildings organized to mimic WWII era army barracks and bunkers are separated by narrow concrete pathways and patches of crabgrass.

It was my first vision of what I had just gotten myself into. All at once the pieces came together and the picture became real. I met my students to perform a series of diagnostic tests and was heartened to find that everyone of them was sweet and sincere. Nothing, however, not the statistics or documentaries, my own experiences or previous school visits around Chicago could have prepared me for the feelings of angst and anger as I graded their tests. My soon-to-be eighth graders were robbed of an education and were struggling to master fourth grade math and reading skills.

I had been planning to go out that night. The week had been long and stressful and I wanted some fun. Sitting with my teaching partners entering the marks of each student's tests changed my plans. "number 3?" "wrong." "number 4?" "wrong." "number 5?" "wrong." I couldn't bring myself to waste any time. Maybe next week, but for now I have work to do.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Edging out talent for a mint coloured Barcelona Lounge

Thoughts on Merril Lynchings

As one who lives near the poverty line on a general basis, does not drive or buy many things, I'm usually not effected by fluctuations in the market. The recent downturn was, for me, something of a sigh of relief. It would mean that Americans would have to stop consuming the amount that they do and would have to start saving more. This is, of course, what was professed as a good thing to me by my family and neighbors growing up but hardly followed.

Tonight I listened to my roommate read a writing sample of incredible insight, a thoughtful and clear piece of writing that I should only hope to try and match for yet another job application, I wondered what our habits and economic system has produced where someone like him would easily be drowned out in favor of less-intelligent, greedy beings. This may all seem pessimistic, but like many recently, my roommate had been laid off just prior to the holidays. A sort of perverse, indefinite Christmas vacation with no card or gift receipt. As I listen to the radio now and hear of the expenditures made for office renovations by John Thain, the former CEO of Merril Lynch, I wonder where people of real talent and thoughtfulness fit into a picture where renovation expenses are more than some annual school budgets.

Will this market lead us to introspection or solely reduce those of merit to the margins so that the powerful can consolidate?

Inaugural Ball

What this blog is meant to be

Most social activists and the generally well informed will almost certainly tell you that they have a nagging notion that everyone else is completely out of their minds. This is, of course, is probably not the case. We know this because we are rationalist and tend to give others the benefit of the doubt. Yet, still, the feeling is there and sometimes we can't help ourselves. How else would you account for what occurs around us. Insanity.