Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Column for The Wave: The Longest Day

This column will appear in print on Friday, June 25 but is pertinent for today's activities.

The Longest Day
By Norm Scott

June 21, 2011
I’m writing this on the morning of the first day of summer. When summer officially hits at 1:16PM I expect to be in Times Square taking a Bikram yoga class with well over a thousand other people (I’ve been ably prepared after a decade of Anita Ruderman’s classes at Hot Yoga on 116th St.) The first thousand people who show up get a free mat and a water bottle so I gotta write quickly or I’ll be doing yoga on concrete.

Following that I’m heading to the NYS Supreme court on Centre St. for a rally supporting the NAACP/UFT suit to keep closing schools open, including Beach Channel (where the grad rate went up, which was noted on NPR), after which I’m off to a press conference with parent and student groups at the Tweed Courthouse at 3pm where they will present alternative budget and revenue raisers. An ad hoc group in Staten Island held a standing room only town hall meeting last week where all kinds of wasted money was found in the city budget (see my June 19 blog posting for a list).

At 7PM it’s off to Bloombergville  (the current incarnation of the famous depression era Hoovervilles) at City Hall Park where education activists have been sleeping in and rallying. The web site, bloombergvillenow.org/ says: Since June 14, people of Bloombergville have been camping out across from City Hall to oppose major cutbacks in social services and thousands of layoffs by the Bloomberg Administration. Bloombergville has maintained a presence of a few dozen to 150 people around the clock within view of the Mayor’s office. We’re students, activists, and concerned citizens, average New Yorkers most affected by the $400,000,000 of proposed cuts to the city’s budget. (For a fun Bloombergville video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=v2TimS0t_VQ)

It should still be daylight when I roll back into Rockaway. But drat, tomorrow the days start getting shorter.

Yes, Let’s Throw Money At Education
I appeared as a guest along with fellow Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) pal and parent activist Lisa Donlan on the WBAI program “Ethics on the Air” last week. I was asked about fixing schools and I offered the simplest advice I could think of: double the staff – teachers, social workers, guidance counselors, aides, paras, custodians. Whatever it takes. A caller asked, “Isn’t that just throwing money at the problem?” “YES. When have we ever really thrown money at the problems in education? Why not try it?” I suggested we swap the defense and education budgets and see if America is a better place for all its citizens after a few years. I find it interesting that a recent study funded by the right wing suggests that reducing class size is not cost effective. But a billion dollars materializes out of thin air to bomb Libya. On the first day one of our super hundreds of million dollar planes crashed. How many less kids in a class would one of those suckers fund?

“The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman” reaches six continents and 50 states
Our GEM produced film has gotten almost 2000 requests from teachers, parents, union officials and even from school superintendents – a demonstration of the anguish ed deformers and their propaganda film “Waiting for Superman” have caused in education circles around the nation and the world. And people are not just watching in the comfort of their homes but are setting up viewings in schools, libraries, churches (there will be a showing in a church in Baldwin LI this Sunday) and larger venues. I have to share this email with you, perfect for a day I’m taking a mass Bikram yoga class:

(See the previous post from India here).

When Diane Ravitch saw this email she tweeted it to her 13,000 followers with a link to order the dvd. Looks like those 4000 copies we had made up will be going, going, gone.

Well, I gotta go and start practicing saying “namaste” so I blend in with the thousands of others. I may just be humming “We don’t need no education, we don’t need no school control” throughout the class.

Norm blogs at http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/. Email him at normsco@gmail.com if you are interested in seeing the film.

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