An Excellent Day

May your day be EXCELLENT – full of the little gifts that make up moments of peace.

To awaken to birdsong and puppy kisses,
to the scent of brewing coffee and browning toast,
to greet the morn with meditation and sweet silence,
this is an excellent day.

To meet each student with a smile and a happy word,
to execute my lesson the way it is planned,
to correct with kindness and to praise with integrity,
this is an excellent day.

To write with freedom and with power,
to create word pictures with my pencil,
to share my writing with my students and friends,
this is an excellent day.

To greet the night time with joy and gladness,
to sleep in peace and restoration,
to have all around me bathed in glorious blessing,
this is an excellent day.


Say No to SBAC

I am reblogging this from Ann Cronin’s excellent blog Real Learning CT. Although Ann is talking about the SBAC test, these 10 reasons to say “no” to the testing are applicable to all the common core standardized testing throughout the country.



Real Learning CT

Connecticut currently mandates the testing of public school students in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 11 with standardized tests produced by the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC). I am opposed to SBAC testing for English language arts because those tests neither measure authentic achievement nor foster students’ growth as readers, writers, and thinkers. Here are 10 reasons to STOP the harmful SBAC testing.

  1. SBAC tests are not rigorous.

The tests do not demand complex thinking. The tests are aligned to the Common Core standards, and the content of the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts is inferior content which does not serve to develop students as motivated, engaged readers and effective writers.

  1. SBAC tests are not field-tested for college and career readiness.

No one knows if a good score indicates that a student will be successful in college or careers or if a poor score indicates…

View original post 1,032 more words

“Thugs” Are Nothing But Children in Transition – A Repost and Reflection

by Mark Naison

Whenever there is urban unrest following a death of a young man at the hands of law enforcement, especially a young Black man, the word “thug” is brought forth, not only to dismiss outpourings of rage and violence the death might inspire, but to imply that the person dying some how deserved their fate and would not be missed.

I cannot stand silent when the term is used that way. It was the same term applied to many of the young people I coached and mentored during the 15 years I was coaching and running sports leagues in Brooklyn from the early 80’s to the late 90’s.

There were many young men in our youth program, which was based in Park Slope, but drew from Red Hook, Boerum Hill, Bedford Stuyvesant, and occasionally as far away as Bushwick, who were feared by other coaches and parents, and occasionally by teachers and school officials. Some of them were the most talented athletes we had; others were merely angry, troubled young people looking for a physical outlet for their emotions.

I refused to give up on them. Working with other coaches and league directors, some of whom were police officers, who believed no child was a prisoner of their fate, we created spaces where these young men could express their emotions without destroying the atmosphere required to maintain a team or a league; where they could find an outlet for their energy and athletic talents, where their leadership skills could be recognized, and where they could find love and support and mentoring when they were desperate.

Sometimes that meant more than sports- it meant taking them into our homes, getting them tutors, organizing them into reading groups, finding the right schools for them.And lo and behold, many of these “thugs,” over time, underwent profound personal transformations, becoming star athletes at their high schools, attending community colleges and four year schools, entering the work force and becoming parents themselves. None ended up in prison.

The faces and names of these young people, and the fear they once inspired, are etched in my memory as a reminder that no child- and teenagers are still children- should be written off because they are angry and rebellious, much less defined for life through their actions in such a way as their deaths can be justified.

That was my philosophy as a teacher and a coach.

It is also my mantra as I survey the current political landscape.

Click here for the original post on Dr.  Naison’s blog With a Brooklyn Accent.

Poetic Justice Reflects:

A long time ago, I stopped using the term “thug” to describe the young people I teach and counsel every day. There was a “check” in my spirit. It felt like my words were perpetuating the inequality and injustice I was seeing done daily to my students. I stopped using that word. It broke my heart to hear our president use it this week to describe the young people in Baltimore.

As Dr. Naison expresses in his blog post, “Every child is precious. Every child has potential. Every child in trouble should be viewed as someone in transition to a better place, not someone who deserves a life of misery.”

The message we need to give our young people is – we love you – without conditions – we love you because we see you as you will be when you grow up – we love you and we have faith in you.

My job as a public school teacher should not be to call the cops on my students. That the “school to prison pipeline” exists is bad enough. I refuse to be part of this pipeline that channels children into a second class citizenship. I refuse to look at my students as “less than” and “not good enough” and as “those kids” and as “thugs”.

Sometimes I feel like I am a lone voice crying out to save the children. We need more educators decrying the injustice, and the inequity, and the disparate treatment in our public schools.

My students are precious.
I refuse to allow them to be called thugs

And I choose to believe in them.
I choose to protect them.
I choose to love them.hands