Monday, November 2, 2015

Call Us Servant Teachers of Steel / #AllIn for Your Heart / #Brooklyn #SuccessAcademy #NewYorkTimes #dignity



Today is Monday, November 2, 2015.

Am I concerned like others about the health of the charter school education culture at ‘Failure Academy’ in Fort Greene, Brooklyn?… I mean ‘Success Academy’ as they call themselves?

Let me begin by venturing forward that the onus is on the educators, on the education culture and the system that stems from it to adapt and morph to the students, rather than the students to it. It is the mark of a true clinical educator to humble themselves to the ground, if it must be, in order to support the complete growth of the student. Not the students to the education system. This is how the best of us do it. This is empathy with all pistons firing. This is what it means to be ….#HotterThanFireforOthers. Yet, it appears that high-mindedness and apathy rule the day in the overly-principled halls of madness existent in the minds of the administration of these Brooklyn charter schools.

This foundational truth is lost on people such as:

  1. CEO of the New York City Charter School Center, James D. Merriman (an apologist that propagates dead-end educational thinking).
  2. School Principal, Candido Brown (who is much to candid with his mediocre statements on his teaching mindset.. to his own hurt).
  3. School Principal of Harlem 2 Upper, Lavinia Mackall (who needs to get taken back to school, or stripped of her ability to interact with students until she changes her mindset).
  4. The so-called ‘network lawyers’ who make hands-on decisions for the charter schools, (go hide… be nameless).
  5. Success Academy’s spokeswoman, Ann Powell (are you a Yes-woman? where is your social responsibility?, or are you beholden to your paycheck?).
  6. Former New York City councilwoman, Eva S. Moskowitz (Mrs. Half-Apology “Give Them Candy”).
  7. School Education Manager, Rebecca Fleishman (apathy on two feet, told a parent that the son had emotional and behavioral problems and the school could not handle it).
  8. Associate Special Education Manager, Julie Freese (“Why don’t you just put him in another school, because he’s suffering”).

I am beyond livid that this culture is allowed to flourish at the expense of children. When I began my teaching career in the Boston Public Schools in my early 20’s, I was put into the toughest 2nd grade glass at a wonderful school in Jamaica Plains. The children were from foster homes, had all sorts of disabilities and/ or had just arrived from a native country. English was a second language to some of them. They were all post off. Angry. Sad. I felt it and they let me know. This was a Special Education classroom and I was the a permanent substitute teacher. My salary had been doubled from just being per-diem. I was in hog heaven. Loved it! The task was epic;) There was school work to be done, yet there was therapy, there was love that needed to be doled out. I thanked God for the opportunity and literally rolled up my sleeves. It was an honor for me to be placed before such a formidable challenge. I will never, ever forget Deleon Fuller. A sprite, little whippersnapper who was angrier… than… yes… ten mountain lions. Both his parents were crack addicts and he lived with a nice woman in a foster home due to that….
You should have seen him. This kid would do back flips off his desk and torment the aide to no end. Not much progress was made given the emotional soup existent in that classroom. 

Enter the Man of Steel
I did not have my ‘black hat’ in those days. I wore a tie and my heart on my rolled-up sleeves. Getting straight to work, I spoke without words to their hearts, like a consummate Field General speaks to his troops, harnessing their hearts and their minds with respect, with dignity, with unconditional love. It was me who adapted to them, not them to me. The chaos that surrounded me eschewed out of their broken hearts. Their actual teacher had gotten cancer and was not able to continue. For me, I counted it all joy. Deleon became my right-hand man. He was my top officer by the end of the semester. Those children looked forward to coming to class with me because i was someone who just transcended my job and was real. This is life… not some rehearsal for life.

Grabbing issues by the horns and wrangling them to the ground with lovingkindness is how I educate. My work is evident in the hearts of my students. I don’t need to explain it. it shows itself. I electrify hearts. That is the mark of a clinical educator.


The creation of a ‘Got to Go’ list as outlined by a major New York newspaper publication that prints all the news that is fit leaves the passionate teacher flabbergasted. How is it that this education culture is not quashed? How is it that ‘network lawyers’ have a say in micro-managing the day to day affairs of which students stay in a school and which go? How is it that Eva S. Moskowitz is allowed to enter her office? 

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