Sunday, January 20, 2008

Puerto Rico, My Heart's Devotion

I was singing "America" from West Side Story all week while on my first trip to Puerto Rico, most of the time spent at a resort lounging at the beach, snorkeling, reading book after book and eating (a lot). One of the great things about retirement is the ability to travel whenever.

Color War
There were many corporate groups meeting there and we got to see first hand the "business" model of team building - expensive retreats and competitions with loud speakers and annoying noisemaking. One group wore tee-shirts that said their goal this year was $75,000,000.
This is the aspect that has been missing from BloomKlein's attempt to bring the business model to the schools (except maybe at KIPP where spending $70,000 on retreats to the Caribbean is acceptable.) It looked like one of those old camp Color War games where learned all about competition. I was such a lousy hitter when I was 10 years old, my teammates told me to go into the woods and pee when my turn at bat came. (My hitting didn't get much better over the years but I can pee on demand now.)

Coming soon:
Get those scores and grad rates up trips and tee-shirts with logos - 80% grad rates or bust.

I felt real comfortable in PR - lots of good feelings connected to working with mostly Puerto Rican kids in Williamsburg - and we hope to return. Maybe drive around the entire island stopping at beaches.

Next trip is to London in March for the 40th anniversary concert of The Zombies - (INSIDE JOKE FOR ZOMBIE FANS - I hope they're there. Or not there. Or maybe she won't be there.) And then on to Japan in April for the Asian Invitational FIRST LEGO League tournament. And maybe Iceland in June. Phew! I'm tired already.

In the meantime, I haven't been too active in local ed politics recently, with the Privatization Forum the week before last and the big FLL tournament coming up next Saturday (check the norms robotics blog for robotics in NYC for news) and my working for the past month on the FLL program guide (modeled on the old Ed Notes format - see, they were worth more than just using as ballast under the tires when it snowed) which, thank goodness, was just sent to the printer (a pdf is available for those interested, here.)

Last week's Delegate Assembly was the first I missed in a long time and I hear my buddies from ICE actually got something passed. We had a pretty good ICE meeting on Jan. 11 with a lot of people attending and discussed some strategy behind making amendments to a UFT resolution on school leadership teams.

I wouldn't attach too much significance to the fact that Leo Casey supported it, but you can read all about it at the ICE blog. I'll have some comments on the Hillary call later.

Ellen Raider from ICOPE did a presentation at the ICE meeting on their governance plan and we had a rousing discussion that ranged from "Their bottom-up governance plan is just pie in the sky" to "We need to start somewhere and work from that place." I personally support the bottom up concept where the school is the basic unit of power and urge people to take a look at the ICOPE model.

No one other than ICOPE seems to have come up with much of an alternative. Leonie Haimson always points to the "Who controls the money" argument whenever we talk about decentralized plans. But in reality, I feel we will still have some form of mayoral control because the UFT and just about every politician supports it. The UFT is doing its phony baloney Governance road show (tomorrow, Tuesday, at Martin Luther King HS in Manhattan at 6 if you are interested) to make it look like they don't really know what they'll do. They will issue a report to give venting to what people have to say and then do what's in the best interests of the leadership - which guess what, is mayoral control with a few tweaks since they are expecting to get Bill Thompson (who also called into the DA to show Blacks support Hillary) as the next mayor.

Smoke on your pipe and put that in.

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