Education News’ Michael F. Shaughnessy, Education Views Senior Editor just published a wonderful interview:
Here’s an excerpt:
“3) Let’s start with the good–what good things did you see happening?
I saw schools which were incredibly rich with resources: fashion schools with runways, dress forms, sewing machines, imagination, student design ready for Vogue. One school had a giant video production studio with pre-production, production and post-production areas, a beautiful photography studio and students beating on the door to get to class on Friday afternoon at 3:10pm. In a “failing” school, I met a Living Environment teacher, also an EPA consultant, poised to take his classes on a trip to the beach to take samples of the sand and water to see if they can determine any pollutants. I was in a dual language school which wrapped its academic arms around some of our newest immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries. I taught at another school that serves kids, who just came through international arrivals at JFK but who are a bit too old for high school. This school stays open till 10 at night and on weekends to provide these kids with a path to success, even though they may have to raise families or work day jobs. All of these schools showed great love and a passion for giving their students every single chance to succeed.
4) Moving onto the bad—what was the worst thing you encountered or saw?
Segregation by zip code. There was a small school in Washington Heights that serves about 600 students. Every NYC high school student is required to have one “art” credit for graduation so they had to create an “art” class. This school’s total art supplies equaled one cardboard box with a few colored pencils. All the pencils needed sharpening and someone had run off with the sharpener. There seemed to be no art teacher, just an AP who assigned a sub the art classes every week. As their “art” sub, I was given either no lesson plan or just a poorly copied outline of Picasso’s guitar player. These vibrant, naturally creative, funny high school students were expected to color in this outline for their 45 minute art class. WTF! That’s a kindergarten level class. Sister Wendy should hear this AP’s confession, word?
I conspired with these kids to create our own art project with prominently featured third fingers…it’s in the book.”
The whole interview is here.