Saturday, October 4, 2014

Norm in The Wave - Atlanta Cheating, Cops and Firemen, Robots and Jesus

I cover a lot of ground in my School Scope column, published in the Oct. 3 edition of The Wave (www.rockawave.com). I hope my lefty friends don't get all agitated at my saying some nice things about cops.

School Scope: Firemen, Police and Their Kids
By Norm Scott

I was going to continue my series of columns on the topic of “police and teachers” but got distracted the other day while spending my usual 7 hours a day sitting on my front porch reading, smoking my pipe and watching the world go by. I used to be a back porch guy but since the hurricane I have reverted to my Brooklyn East-NY front porch sitting roots. It is just so much more interesting. Since Sandy, two families of firemen with 5 very young children – age 3 and under - between them have moved onto my block within hailing distance of my porch. And I get to observe a lot of daddy care with the children. And what a wonderful sight it is to see how these guys relate to their children. In addition we have a police couple on the block with 2 young girls and there is dad, a big guy, riding bikes with the kids, taking them to the beach and seeming to be having an awfully good time. And then there is a retired police department guy with slightly older kids, walking his beloved dog with one of his kids tagging along, all having the time of their life.

I am not raising this to say that police and fire dads are any more loving than anyone else towards their kids, but rather due to public image these first responders have which does not often include this aspect of their lives when they are off-duty. Someone should follow these dads around with a camera and do a commercial to give the world a window into the tenderness and joy they exhibit towards their children. As for me, it just gives me one more excuse to sit on my porch and watch the wonderful world go by before the coming blahs of winter.

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Robotics: FIRST LEGO League moves into high gear

I've been working with NYCFIRST since practically the day I retired - actually from that first day in Sept. 2002. I had a great time last Saturday at NYU/Poly on Jay Street at our annual FLL kickoff. We have about 170 NYC teams registered so far for the Challenge which is called World Class, all about learning. Kids not only build a robot for the game field which represents different styles of learning - but also do and present an extensive research project on the subject. Teams spend the next 3 months prepping. Borough qualifiers take place in January. Finalists go to citywide event at Javits on the weekend of March 14. The winner of may be eligible to go to international event in St. Louis in late April.

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Atlanta Test Cheating Scandals Go to Trial
Imagine, wanting to send teachers, supervisors, and even Superintendents to jail for changing answers on tests in Atlanta. As if they are special when we know what they did was taking place here and in probably many other places – certainly in Washington DC under Michelle Rhee. I was told a story by friend teaching in a high school in a poor neighborhood in Queens that had 100% of the kids score well on the algebra regents, bearing out even Midwood HS – a red flag for sure. But the principal was hailed as a miracle worker – until people began to blow the whistle. She had threatened teachers without tenure with firing and forced even tenured to cheat – the answers were actually posted on the board. But guess what happened? The whistle blowers came under investigation.
Investigator: “You cheated, you lied.”
Teacher: “But we were forced to.”
Investigator: Following orders is not an excuse. “Did you ever hear of the Nuhrenberg trials?” Some links on Atlanta cheating to check out: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/30/us/racketeering-trial-opens-in-altanta-schools-cheating-scandal.html?_r=0, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/07/21/wrong-answer

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Rockaway Theatre Company Update
Since the widely successful Godspell closed last weekend, I won’t be doing columns on the RTC for a few weeks as “Damn Yankees” moves into high gear for its mid-November opening. This past week I joined Tony Homesy and crew as they took down the set and started building the new set, which will be a work of art, as usual.

I will say that the show has stimulated an interest in the historical Jesus and I’m reading an interesting book called, “How Jesus Became God – The Exaltation of a Jewish Peacher from Galilee,” by Bart D. Ehrman, who claims Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher, proclaiming the end of the age was about to come, as did John the Baptist and the later Church changed that message since it didn’t happen – yet.

Norm will continue to blog at ednotesonline.com - until the apocalypse – and maybe beyond.

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