Category Archives: Uncategorized

Applauding the Philadelphia School District’s Gutsy Leadership

by Jeff Rosenberg

The School District’s recent attempt to void the teachers’ contract has brought out the best in our leaders.

Earlier this month the Philadelphia Daily News reported, “The education advocacy group Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools has taken legal steps to challenge the School Reform Commission’s decision last month to cancel the teacher contract.” Local rabble-rousers need to take a step back and a deep breath. This is my 38th year teaching for the School District of Philadelphia. My colleagues are teachers. Some of my closest friends are teachers. I married a teacher. I am now risking becoming a pariah, but after reflecting, let’s give our leadership their due. (I was able to do this by attempting to stand in the shoes of Philadelphia School District spokesman Fernando Gallard and anticipating how he likely would have responded.)

The leadership was gutsy and cunning and showed ingenuity by conducting the meeting to void the contract in a manner that was antithetical to our democratic principles and practices, and then exerted superhero willpower by turning a deaf ear to the public criticism and reaffirming their dogma right or wrong.

SRC Chairman Bill Green exhibited innovative leadership when he initially responded to the public outcry of the stealthily arranged meeting as happenstance, “We were planning to have the meeting next Thursday, and it just didn’t work out for us. And so Monday was not a targeted date. It was simply the date that we could get it done.” Later he referred to it as a “legal matter.”

Mayor Nutter attempted to calm the furor by dismissively saying, “I don’t know if any of the folks who are upset about this would be happy if the meeting was conducted in the middle of Broad Street at noon.” (When city council scrapped his proposal to sell PGW without a public hearing, he disappointedly said, “It is the opposite of transparency,” and referred to it as the “biggest copout.” This revealed the Mayor’s uncanny discretion on when to apply “transparency” and identify and quantify a “copout.”)

Chairman Green, Superintendent Hite, Mayor Nutter, and Governor Corbett, demonstrated their solidarity and compulsion for fairness when they fearlessly stood up to the teachers, and in virtual unison professed to anyone who was breathing that everyone else but the teachers has “stepped up” with concessions for the children, including the district blue collar workers and principals. Straight-shooter SRC Commissioner Sylvia Simms got to the crux, “We need to stop playing games on the backs of our children.” (She maintained her tell-it-like-it-is authority when she berated protesting children that they were “probably in failing schools.”) Mayor Nutter referred to it as a “sharing environment.”

They deserve the credit for bringing about that altruistic environment when the other unions were first “stepped on” before they “stepped up.” The “concessions” were more like strong-arm tactics of coercion, as the other unions were threatened with inventive and resourceful alternatives, including layoffs, private-contractors, and the unilateral imposition of work rules with even more severe cutbacks. Faced with fear and mounting pressure, they acquiesced. When things get tough, the tough get going. It required strong, unyielding, and adroit leadership.

So how does this creative out-of-the-pocket and daring shakedown shakeout? It will cost beginning teachers opting for family coverage with a surcharge and “Buy Up” $7,537, 17.39 percent of their lavish $43,358 salary; it will cost teachers with six years of experience and a required bachelor’s or equivalent $8139, 14.40 percent of their affluent $56,531 salary; and it will be 11.31 percent of the purported $72,000 average teacher salary. (Their unlimited personal expense accounts for classroom spending will go untouched.)

These unprecedented and burdensome cost initiatives imposed by the leadership are the equivalent of pay-cuts that will bring millions for the children. When teachers get raises, they generally do not exceed 2 to 4 percent cost of living rates. The higher end percentages of the health care contributions easily exceed the salary raises for an entire 3 to 4-year contract.

This should allow the district to maintain and even increase the already colossal teacher turnover, keeping those aggravating, tertiary labor costs down. The PFT reports that 60 percent of teachers have five years or less tenure. Our leadership is on top of this national cutting-edge trend to create a transient, unstable teacher corps by taking away any incentive to stay, along with any school-based security and stability.

When Superintendent Hite was asked about his own cabinet making comparable health care contributions, he politely responded after you, giving teachers an opportunity to lead.

At the same time, our leadership has expressed compassion for the teachers’ plight and acknowledged how tirelessly they worked with their students. A tolerant Superintendent Hite has even invited them back to the bargaining table, full well knowing that they might lack the trust required in good faith negotiations because of the ongoing violations by the district and SRC. It takes incredible chutzpa for that kind of consideration and perseverance.

Amazingly, there is still enough of that self-assurance leftover, along with the foresight and resolve, to begin spending 14 million dollars they do not yet possess. Directing his principals to confer with their teachers on how to spend their own money, shows his unshaken belief in cooperation and shared decision-making.

Best of all, by their actions and unwavering example, the charismatic SRC, district, and government leadership earned our gratitude for inspiring and motivating the Philadelphia community in general and the rank and file in particular to come together and take a stand (albeit contrary to their own) in a show of solidarity the city hasn’t seen in years. The familiar chants of “Shame on you” were especially passionate and tight. (And to Mayor Nutter, I think the attendees were generally satisfied with this meeting on Broad Street in broad daylight.)

This past episode to void the contract and its aftermath has brought out the best of our leaders. Sadly, our leaders are not getting the credit they think they deserve, which is something every teacher can relate to.

In the meantime, after expressing my unstinting admiration for our SDP leadership, I’m hoping that I might be able to at least get back into the good graces of my dog with a belly rub or two, as I will certainly be sharing his house.

Jeff Rosenberg is an education writer and longtime Philadelphia public schoolteacher.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Philly Schools Brought Financial Crisis on Themselves

by Christopher Paslay

State auditors have been warning the Philadelphia School District of accounting problems for decades. 

There was a very interesting and informative article published in today’s Inquirer by Eric Boehm of the Pennsylvania Independent:

State auditors warned of financial accountability problems at the Philadelphia School District in periodic audits since at least 1987, foreshadowing some of the issues that underpin the crisis in the district as it opens its doors to students Monday.

The district is running a $300 million deficit this year and was only able to ensure it would open its doors on time thanks to an emergency loan secured by the city of Philadelphia in August. The district is receiving more than $1.3 billion in state and federal aid this year.

But the district has had problems tracking students, accounting for state dollars and keeping accurate finances for much of the past two decades, according to audits conducted by the state auditor general’s office. The auditor general is required to audit all 500 school districts in Pennsylvania at least once every four years.

“The district was unable to provide us with the documentation necessary to verify that it correctly reported its membership and attendance data to the Department of Education,” wrote auditors in the most recent review of the Philadelphia School District, which took place in 2011. “A district’s failure to accurately maintain and report this data calls into question the legitimacy and appropriateness of the bulk of its state taxpayer funding.”

The auditors said they reported similar problems in each of the five previous audits of the Philadelphia School District. It was impossible to determine if the district received appropriate state subsidies for more than decade, they wrote. “These findings are particularly disturbing because in those ten years the district has received approximately $9.1 billion of state of state dollars,” they wrote.

Interestingly, these facts have been ignored by most of the Philadelphia education establishment.  Advocates continue to rally for more money from the state, but this only addresses the short-term symptoms and not the long-term problem.

Boehm’s article continues:

Repeated phone calls and emails to the school district and the state-run School Reform Commission, which was created to address some of the problems in the district, went unreturned over the past week.

But in 2011, in an official response to the state audit, district officials wrote that the district would pursue steps to address the problems identified in the report.

The district said it had new procedures in place to better track student attendance and state spending, beginning in the 2010-11 school year. Officials also tried to downplay the effect of student enrollment on state subsidies, claiming the inaccurate counts affected only 3 percent of state spending in the district.

In a second response, the auditors expressed skepticism that the district would get its fiscal house in order.

“It is imperative for us to emphasize that we have been citing the district since 1987 for inaccurate collection and reporting of child accounting data,” the auditors wrote. “The commonwealth’s taxpayers deserve to know that every dollar is accurately accounted for, and, to that end, no error rate is acceptable.”

Federal auditors encountered some of the same problems.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Education’s Inspector General recommended that the Philadelphia School District be labeled a “high risk grantee” after a federal audit found the district did not maintain documentation for training and professional development expenditures.

State auditors said that finding highlighted the “pervasiveness of the district’s recordkeeping issues.”

But the district has continued to get more state funding, even while the financial situation at the district has spiraled downward in recent years.

The accountability problems at the school district were compounded by the state’s decision to cut education funding in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 state budgets, using federal stimulus funds to fill the gap. When the stimulus dollars expired in 2011, the state did not increasing funding to make up the difference.

In trying to deal with the funding mess, the school district laid off about 3,800 employees during the summer and closed 24 school buildings at the recommendation of the School Reform Commission, which cited the district’s declining student enrollment for the decision.

“By not taking action now, we would continue the deterioration of our public schools to the point where they become obsolete to the children that we have sworn to serve,” said Pedro Ramos, chairman of the School Reform Commission, in statement at the time.

Enrollment in the district totals about 190,000 this year, but overall enrollment is down 11 percent since 2008 and 29 percent since 2001.

This year, Philadelphia is slated to receive nearly $984 million in basic education subsidies.

That’s a significant increase in only the past few years. As recently as the 2008-09 budget year, the district received $932 million.

The district is counting on the $50 million loan from the city and another $45 million grant from the state to allow it to continue operating through the end of the year.

But the $50 million loan is tied up in a political struggle between the mayor and the city council, while the $45 million state grant also is on hold for now.

Negotiations, meanwhile, continue between the district and its main teachers union, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. State officials have said they will not provide additional financial assistance to the school district unless the teachers’ union agrees to about $133 million in concessions.

But things will only get worse, according to two reports that eye the future of the district.

A district report from August 2012 projects a cumulative deficit of $1.1 billion through 2017, and a study of the district’s pension obligations indicates the total cost of retiree payments will climb from $73 million this year to $349 million by 2020.

Tragically, these financial issues go well beyond something as simple as a “fair funding formula.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

On Corbett Bashing and the Common Core

by Christopher Paslay

Common Core texts indoctrinate young children and teach them to manipulate facts for social advocacy.  Sound familiar, Philadelphia? 

Mark Twain once said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

This is the philosophy I use when I teach students in my high school English classes how to write.  There is no substitute for the right word—no true synonym—and until a writer figures this out, he won’t be able to fully articulate his thoughts.  This is the case whether you are writing a narrative, informational, or persuasive essay (the Common Core’s preferred term for “persuasive” is now “argumentative”).

Good writing, especially in today’s culture of limited attention spans, is focused, clear, and accurate.  Good writers can say more in less space—and they can back their writing with examples, details, and evidence.

This philosophy has worked well with my own students at Swenson Arts and Technology High School.  On the 2012 PSSA Writing Test, 74% of my 11th graders scored proficient or advanced—a whopping 28.1% percent higher than the Philadelphia School District average, which was only 45.9%.

Unfortunately, some English Language Arts texts being promoted by the Common Core are no longer focused on teaching students succinct, accurate writing that avoids the use of flimsy persuasive techniques (such as red herrings, overgeneralizing, circular arguments, name calling, etc.), but on writing that actually encourages the use of emotionally charged propaganda for social advocacy.  In short, some ELA texts supported by the Common Core are not making young children free thinkers, but politically indoctrinating them (type the phrase “Common Core indoctrination” on YouTube and see the results).

One interesting case of indoctrinating students and promoting the use of propagandistic writing for social advocacy is the state of Utah’s first grade ELA primer Voices: Writing and Literature, recommended by, and aligned with, the Common Core.  On the surface it appears the text is about literature and writing, but a closer look reveals a major theme is social justice and social advocacy.  This, amazingly, is being introduced not to college undergraduates in Community Organizing 101, but to first graders!

One section in Voices: Writing and Literature teaches young children how to play fast and loose with facts by using emotionally charged propagandistic words to elicit emotions and bring about liberal social change.  It doesn’t teach children to use the right word, as Twain would have advocated (as well as any respectable writing teacher), but to use a word that will get folks stirred-up for social justice, whether or not that word is true, evidence-based, or accurate.

Click on the below YouTube video to see for yourself:

Because the Philadelphia School District is flat broke and has no money to invest in a new set of textbooks, such a primer may not be made available to our city’s school children.  However, the political indoctrination of School District students—and the teaching of how to play fast and loose with facts—is well underway.  Groups like Youth United for Change and the Philadelphia Student Union, who often partner with politically motivated adult organization such as the Education Law Center, are well schooled on the use of propaganda in writing.

All three of these groups frequently use “correlation to prove causation”—a logical fallacy and standard propaganda technique—to imply that Philadelphia public schoolteachers are discriminating against minority students because black students are three times as likely to be suspended or expelled as their white peers (and these groups continue to claim this despite the fact that no documented cases of racial discrimination by a Philadelphia teacher against a students exists . . . except, of course, the discrimination against Sam Pawlucy by a black geometry teacher for wearing a Romney T-shirt in class).

The newly founded “Fund Philly Schools Now” does much of the same in terms of their blatant use of propaganda.  Launched to help raise money for struggling city schools, an admirable goal, their website states:

Since Gov. Corbett took office, it has become clear that when he must make the choice between tax breaks for corporations and much-needed investments in our children, he chooses corporations and wealthy donors every time. The crisis in Philadelphia public schools has been manufactured by Gov. Corbett. He is starving the city of resources and then using teachers as scapegoats and Philadelphia families as pawns.

Propagandistic?  No question.  With Federal stimulus money gone, Governor Corbett has been forced to make due with less, and this has no doubt adversely impacted Philadelphia public schools (as well as most public schools in PA).  But the crisis in city schools was not “manufactured by Gov. Corbett.”

During the Ackerman years, from July of 2008 to July of 2011, the School District blew through nearly $10 billion, spending so reckless it prompted the IRS to open a detailed audit of their financial practices.  The rapid expansion of charter schools—nearly 100 of them in 10 years—also greatly contributed to the School District’s financial crisis.  There is also the matter of Philadelphia residents owing over $500 million in delinquent property taxes.  And the fact that the School District loses millions of dollars in unreturned textbooks and stolen computer equipment each year.  And the reality that recently retired baby-boomers are overwhelming the pension system.  And all the cronyism/nepotism over the past five years from the usual suspects . . . Ackerman, Archie, Evans, Gamble, Fattah Jr., etc.

All Corbett?  Please.

Does the School District badly need money?  Absolutely.  Do I want to see our city’s children get the resources they need?  Most definitely.  But the theatrics and use of propaganda to get money is getting old.  People are growing tired of it.  Attacking public officials is becoming counterproductive (just ask Mayor Nutter).  Why does the rest of the state hate Philadelphia, think we are a cesspool?  Perhaps they are tired of Victimology 101.  It’s like with affirmative action: If groups in need simply took responsibility for their problems and said, I’m having some trouble keeping up, can you please lend a hand?, people would bend over backwards to help out.  But it doesn’t work like that.  Affirmative action in 21st century America goes more like this:  It’s YOUR fault I have problems, so give me what you owe me, now!

Not the best way to get the help you need, or to get at the true root of problems.

Neither is using propaganda to bring about reform (or to teach our students English Language Arts).

According to the mission statement of the Common Core:

The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.

Dr. Carole Hornsby Haynes, a noted curriculum specialist and former public school teacher, disagrees with the Common Core’s mission statement and feels they have an ulterior agenda.  She writes in a recent article:

Common Core is not about “core knowledge” but rather is the foundation for left-wing student indoctrination to create activists for the social justice agenda. Education is being nationalized, just like our healthcare, to eliminate local control over education, imposing a one-size-fits-all, top-down curriculum that will also affect private schools and homeschoolers.

I don’t know if Dr. Hornsby Haynes is totally correct about the Common Core, but I know this: ELA teachers should teach students how to make strong, factual arguments, not how to play loose with the facts to support their own political agendas.

Leave a comment

Filed under Core Curriculum, Philadelphia Student Union, Uncategorized

Should Illegal Immigrants Get Tuition Breaks?

by Christopher Paslay

At Metropolitan State University of Denver, illegal immigrants will pay $8,000 less a year than what out-of-state students pay.

According to a story in The New York Times:

Monday is the first day of the school year for Metropolitan State University of Denver, a compact, urban campus in the heart of the city’s downtown.

It also signifies the dawn of a controversial new policy for this institution of 24,000. Among the crowd of students who will show up for class next week are dozens of illegal immigrants who, as part of a specially tailored tuition rate, can now qualify for a reduced fee if they live in Colorado.

The new rate, approved by the university’s board of trustees in June, has garnered praise from immigrant rights advocates here who have tried for years to get legislation passed that would allow state colleges to offer discounted tuition to local, illegal immigrant students.

What do you think?  Should illegals get tuition breaks at universities?  Take the poll below:

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Test your knowledge of America’s public school teachers!

1.  What percentage of public school teachers are white?

A)  50%

B)  84%

C)  72%

 

2.  What percentage of public school teachers are women?

A)  55%

B)  84%

C)  62%

 

3.  What percentage are 29 years old or younger?

A)  18%

B)  21%

C)  52%

 

4)  What percentage has five years teaching experience or less?

A) 19%

B)  26%

C)  42%

 

5.  What percentage has earned a master’s degree? 

A)  28%

B)  43%

C)  32%

 

6.  What percentage teach in the city?

A)  49%

B)  31%

C)  22%

 

7.  What percentage teach in the suburbs?

A)  51%

B)  26%

C)  12%

 

8.  What percentage teach general elementary?

A)  35%

B)  48%

C)  2%

 

9.  What percentage entered the classroom from an alternative teacher preparation program?

A)  33%

B)  16%

C)  92%

 

10.  What percentage are “very or somewhat satisfied” with their overall job as a teacher?

A)  10%

B)  89%

C)  51%

 

ANSWERS:

1.  The answer is B.  84% of teachers are white.

2.  The answer is B.  84% of teachers are women.

3.  The answer is B.  21% are 29 years old or younger.

4.  The answer is B.  26% have five years experience or less.

5.  The answer is B.  43% have master’s degrees.

6.  The answer is B.  31% teach in the city.

7.  The answer is B.  26% teach in the suburbs.

8.  The answer is B.  48% teach general elementary.

9.  The answer is B.  16% entered the classroom via an alternative route.

10.  The answer is B.  89% are satisfied with their overall job as a teacher.

(Data from “Profiles of Teachers in the U.S. 2011”)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Milton Street Named Superintendent of Philadelphia Schools

City of Brotherly Love officials shock the education community and announce Milton Street as Philadelphia’s new chief of schools.     

by Bartleby Baumgartner

PHILADELPHIA, PA  In a shocking early morning decision from their headquarters beneath Billy Penn, City of Brotherly Love officials announced that former state legislator and federal prisoner Milton Street will be the new chief of public schools.

“His prison record really shouldn’t be an issue here,” a City of Brotherly Love spokesperson said.  “I don’t see why people always focus on the negatives.”  The City insisted he was only in jail for a few misdemeanor counts of tax evasion, and that that shouldn’t keep him from serving as superintendent.

“Who pays their taxes anymore, anyway?” a City spokesperson said.  “Queen Arlene never paid her taxes.  Didn’t she owe backed taxes in like three states?”

Several parents on hand for the announcement questioned the City’s decision, citing Milton Street’s age—he is now 72 years old—as a factor.

“This guy is pretty old,” Beatrice Bixby, mother of a Philadelphia middle-schooler, said.  “Ain’t he like seventy-something now?  I don’t know if I want some old guy running our schools.  Old people forget stuff, and they have trouble seeing things.  Like when they back their car up out of their garage.  You ever see an old person do that?  Just throw their car in reverse and start backing up, not caring who is behind them?  Man, that is no joke.”

The City stood behind its decision to bring Milton on.  They said he has the passion, the experience, and the nifty black wool hat to lead Philadelphia’s school children into the 21st century.

“Sure he was in prison, but have you seen his wool hat?” a City official said.  “You got a guy like that wearing a hat like that, who knows?  The sky’s the limit.  Great things are possible.”

“He looks like an elf!” said Brandi Brown, a sixth grader from the Far Northeast.

The tide may indeed be turning for Philadelphia’s public schools.  Of course, only time will tell if the City’s April 1st decision to hire Milton Street will reap the kind of benefits the education community has long been hoping for.

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

As Pennsylvania Schools Scrambled for Cash, Tom Corbett Gave Jerry Sandusky’s Foundation $3 Million

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Christopher Paslay

Last July, as PA’s education budget was getting slashed by over $1 billion, Tom Corbett personally approved a $3 million state grant to Jerry Sandusky’s Second Mile Foundation.

When you hear the names Tom and Jerry, most people think of a cartoon cat and mouse—not a gray-haired Republican governor who cut education spending in Pennsylvania by over $1 billion, and a retired football coach who is charged with 40 criminal counts of child sex abuse. 

According to Brad Bumsted’s story in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday defended personally approving a $3 million state grant to The Second Mile Foundation, which prosecutors contend provided sexual assault victims for its founder, former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.”

“The Second Mile had good purposes,” Corbett said. “I’d like to see it go forward. I don’t know whether it will be able to continue to go forward, and I hope there is a successor to the organization.”

Corbett has since given directions to pull back the $3 million grant. 

The Second Mile may have had good purposes, but Corbett’s timing is suspect.  He approved the $3 million state grant in July, despite the fact that at the time, Sandusky, the founder of Second Mile, was being investigated for child sex crimes. 

Corbett insists otherwise.  According to the article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Corbett said that denying the grant would have posed the potential to ‘compromise the investigation.’”  But Corbett’s explanation for approving the grant still doesn’t pass the smell test, considering the fact that he was the one who began the investigation as attorney general before becoming governor, and should have blocked the Second Mile grant long before July. 

State Rep. Tony DeLuca (D-Penn Hills) said that Corbett’s explanation “doesn’t make sense to me,” because of the fact that Corbett had known about the investigation for so long.

Corbett’s approval of the Second Mile grant is indeed debatable.  Not just because he was putting money into a foundation started by a possible pedophile, but because he was cutting funding to hundreds of needy public school districts across the state while doing so.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Philadelphia Schoolteacher Hangs Self in Classroom

by Christopher Paslay

Last week in English class I decided to hang myself in front of my students.  I did so by taking a picture of yours truly and hanging it up on the wall behind my desk.    

“Look everyone,” I said to the class, “I’ve just hung myself.”

The class let out a chuckle.

Why would I do such a thing?  As a grammar lesson to teach the difference between hang, hung, and hanged, of course.  The lesson was a perfect “Do Now” activity for The Crucible, the Arthur Miller play we’ve been studying for the past month about the Salem Witch Trials. 

The play, which serves as an allegory for McCarthyism, details the hanging of 19 Puritans who were believed to be in cahoots with Lucifer himself.  The frequent use of the noose inevitably caused my students to ask: What is the difference between hang, hung, and hanged?

Here it is (from Daily Writing Tips):  

Hang derives from Old English and means to be attached from above without support below. This is one of the core meanings, as shown in the sentence: The picture hangs on the wall.

However, there are several other related uses, for example:

  • To let droop or fall – hang your head in shame.
  • To fall in a certain way – this costume hangs well.
  • To pay attention to – I hang on your every word.
  • To hold on tightly – My daughter is hanging onto my skirt.
  • A way of doing something – She couldn’t get the hang of it.
  • To be oppressive – a cloud of gloom hangs over him.

The regular past tense of hang is hung, which would be used in all the examples listed above. However, there is one difference when it comes to hanging someone by the neck. In this case the past tense is hanged which means killed by hanging.

In other words, the Puritans in Salem were hanged, not hung.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Calling All Literary Agents and Publishers!

I’m currently seeking a publisher/literary representation for a 70,000 word non-fiction book titled The Village Proposal: Why Education is a Shared Responsibility.  The book is based on the African proverb that it takes a village to raise a child.  Part education commentary, part memoir, The Village Proposal analyzes the theme of “shared responsibility” in education, and examines the various entities that have an impact on America’s schools, such as parents and community, politics, private business, technology, and multiculturalism. Although some elements are more influential than others, all of these impact how and what children learn. 

 

Because teachers are the centerpiece of education, the story of my teaching career is told in alternating chapters opposite my commentary on shared responsibility.  I believe it’s necessary to put my own teaching under the microscope and lead by example.  Specifically, I highlight my transformation from a first-year English teacher struggling with classroom management to a veteran educator who develops within his students a passion for writing.

 

I’m a frequent contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, where my articles on education and school reform regularly appear.  My commentaries on public schools have also been published in the Philadelphia Daily News and the Philadelphia City Paper.  I’ve also had work featured in Education Week and Philadelphia Magazine. 

 

Although books on education reform cover a wide variety of topics, The Village Proposal is one of the first to carry the “shared responsibility” message.  It is also the first to combine commentary and memoir in a way that bridges the gap between theory and practice.     

 

Any parties interested in seeing a proposal of the book please contact me at phillystyle71@yahoo.com.

 

No “vanity” or print-on-demand self-publishers, please!

 

Thank You.

 

–Christopher Paslay

 

1 Comment

Filed under Holistic Education, Uncategorized

Finding Mrs. Warnecke: The Difference Teachers Make

From Amazon.com:

“Finding Mrs. Warnecke tells the inspiring story of Cindi Rigsbee, a three-time Teacher of the Year, and Barbara Warnecke, the first-grade teacher who had a profound and lasting impact on Cindi’s life. Cindi, an insecure child who craved positive attention, started her first-grade year with a teacher who was emotionally abusive and played favorites in the classroom. Two months into the school year, her principal came into the classroom and announced that half the students were being moved to another classroom–a dank, windowless basement room, with a young and inexperienced teacher.  This change turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to Cindi.  Her new teacher, Mrs. Warnecke, made learning come alive for her students.  She went overboard caring for each child, made her classroom “magical,” and encouraged students to pursue their dreams.  Although Cindi was reluctant to explore her creativity as a student, Mrs. Warnecke encouraged her to read and write poetry, which became a lifelong passion.  The two kept in touch for several years but lost track of each other when Mrs. Warnecke moved out of state. Cindi spent many years trying to reconnect so she could thank Mrs. Warnecke for making such a difference in her life, but to no avail.  Eventually Cindi became a teacher herself, and thirty years later she has taught more than 2,000 children and been named Teacher of the Year for her home state.  She later came to realize that all those years she wasn’t really trying to track down Barbara Warnecke, but rather, she was trying to “find Mrs. Warnecke” within herself. 

 

In Fall 2008 Cindi and Barbara were reunited on Good Morning America; the show’s producers had tracked Barbara down and brought both women on-set for a tearful reunion.  Barbara was floored at this attention–she had no idea she could have made such an impact on a former student’s life.  As Cindi travels around talking with new and veteran educators, she is always approached by audience members who are moved to tears and want to share the story of the “Mrs. Warnecke” in their own lives.  Finding Mrs. Warnecke not only tells the story of this teacher who made a lifelong impact on her students, it illustrates the importance of the teacher/student relationship in the classroom, and offers principles for other teachers to follow to make a positive impact in their own classrooms.”

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized