Monday, May 22, 2017

The Darkest Hour Is Just Before Dawn- Even Teachers Need Love

I want to share an experience I had yesterday which shows that fear of isolation and fear of failure is truly a universal human emotion.
It is 12:30 PM in my Seminar room, the time the Parents Celebration for my graduating seniors is about to begin. I have an incredible spread on the table, wine, pastries, dumplings and egg rolls and No One Is Here! I am thinking, "what if I did all this work and nobody shows up? Are my students glad to get rid of me and just think I am a silly old man for organizing an event like this?"
Then, at 12:40, Bentley Brown, who wrote a 153 page thesis for me on his father, the great artist Frederick Brown, arrives with his mother Megan. We have ten minutes of laughter and conversation, punctuated by sips of Proseco, and I am thinking "If no one else shows up, this still will be cool."
Then, at 12: 50, another one of my great thesis students Emily Putnam, arrives with her parents and sister, and they sit down around the table with us to share the food and the drink. It is relaxed and wonderful and fun.
Then at 1 PM other students and their families begin coming.... and coming... and coming.. until there is no place for everyone in the seminar room, even with all the chairs removed. People are spilling out into the hall, for thirty or forty feet
I have never seen anything like it in all the years I have had these celebrations. Probably 40 people in all! We drink all the beverages, eat all the food, swap great stories, have lots of photo ops and hugs. I even Rap for them
It was one of the great days I have ever had at Fordham.
Yet two hours before, I had feared that no one would show up
This is how we are. All of us. No matter how experienced and accomplished. We have the same fears and vulnerabilities.
And we are much better with one another than alone.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Educational McCarthyism: Racism, Segregation and the Defamation of Jill Bloomberg

In the late 1940's and early 1950's, one of the ways the FBI tried to determine whether a white person was a Communist was to find out whether they had Black people as guests in their home for dinner or meetings.
Apparently the Department of Investigation of the NYC Department of Education is taking a page out of the FBI playbook and applying the label of "communist" to anyone who complains about segregation in schools or racially discriminatory distribution of resources. This is exactly what they have done in launching an investigation of the great principal of Park Slope Collegiate, Jill Bloomberg, who complained that the predominantly white school in her building got more access to team sports than the other schools located there.
This is absurd for many reasons, First of all, it is not illegal to be a "communist" or a member of a communist party. But secondly, putting the label of "communist" on someone who speaks out against what they see as racial discrimination represents an ill-disguised attempt to discourage open discussion of a major issue in the NYC school system
The entire leadership of the NYC Department of Education is tainted by this investigation, and the absurd charges that have accompanied it. The investigation must end immediately and an apology given to Principal Bloomberg, who is a neighborhood hero for speaking out about what everyone knows is wrong in the John Jay Campus and reinforces the argument made by NYC Let Em Play about the unequal distribution of sports resources by race among schools