Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wild Day: Deb Meier, Meeting Nancy Carlson Paige, A 3020a Hearing, Hanging With Peter Pan

Yesterday is so far away but I've got to get it all down before it fades.

We started working on our new film, working title, "High Stakes Testing: The Inconvenient Truth" and I had to race into the city early in order to catch up with one of my heroes, Deb Meier for an interview. I won't give you the entire history but I tried an open classroom for parts of 2 years (1970-72) and it was somewhat of a disaster. I heard of an amazing teacher who was doing wonderful work and always wanted to meet her but didn't actually do that until about 5 years ago. Deb's blogging with Diane Ravitch, two people who at one time were coming at things from opposite directions, has given vitality to the battle against ed deformers and their influence has made them giants. Talk to Deb and you get a wonderful sensibility about children and how they learn. Deb's latest post to Diane is: 'Soft Science' & Less Certainty

Deb was in town for the day for a meeting at a CUNY building on 31st St. We had to find a spot for the interview and it was so noisy we went up the meeting to look for a space. The first person to greet us was Nancy Carlson Paige, a noted educator battling ed deform, who got some great publicity when she and brought her son Matt Damon to SOS in Washington last July. Deb introduced me to her as one of the people who made TITBWFS and I was walking on air the rest of the day after Nancy started telling people how much she liked it. I called Julie afterwards to tell her. Her response: "you should have gotten an interview with Nancy." I thought of it but she was anxious to get the meeting going and I'm just too shy to ask but having her in our film would have been great.

As the mother of a major actor, she did give my flimsy equipment a look but Deb and I found an office for the 10 minute interview. Just listening to her energizes me. Here is the link: 

Or watch it here.

I may have an interview with Diane Ravitch next week. Now all I have to do is lure Susan Ohanian away from Vermont.

After that I headed over to B&H for some fun shopping and I blew a load. My wife was meeting me at 2PM for a matinee and I had a few hours so I headed downtown for the first day of a 3020a hearing (I'm heading  back today.) It is absolutely astounding to attend one of these where the teacher is clearly an excellent teacher by every possible judgement but is being persecuted for a statement in facebook. Whether that was good or bad judgement, the DOE lawyer objected to every possible piece of evidence that show what a good teacher she is by saying, "Irrelevant. We are only interested in the facebook incident." Proof that the DOE is willing to waste thousands of dollars to fire what even they would acknowledge is a good teacher. Another wrinkle is that she is African-American and the 3rd African-American woman the principal has gone after: the real civil rights issue of our time.

The room was packed with supporters and even students who supported the teacher, including Christine Rubio who was fired for facebook comments but won her case in court.
You can read more about the case at The Assailed Teacher: The Joke of 3020a
"The process has become so biased that real courts of law are overturning more 3020a decisions than ever before. It happened in the case of Christine Rubino, whose case Betsy Combier describes in her latest post." Betsy is always there for people and has a lot of fans.

I fear that the persecution of teachers will lead to the loss of people like Assailed Teacher: read the collateral damage in this post: Teacher in Crisis.

I have notes and will try to do a longer piece tonight.

The lunch break came just in time for me to make the matinee "Peter and the Star Catcher" an absolutely hysterical prequel to Peter Pan. The best line from the future Captain Hook: You made your bed, Pan.

Then is was off to 5Napkin Burger on 9th Ave (I needed 6 napkins to coral that burger.) After dinner I had the option to head over to CUNY for the Change the Stakes meeting where parents are discussing opting out of the test: check the great GEM blog that covers this issue.
Change the Stakes | Take a Stand Against High Stakes Testing: Our Children Are More Than Test Scores!

But this old guy had enough for the day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Norm Scott,

I am immensely grateful for your coverage of the 3020-a case mentioned above. After two days, it has become increasingly difficult to "observe" this case without screaming out loud. Thousands of dollars spent (and counting), specious testimony, one enraging objection by the DOE after another, and at the heart of it: what? A comment made on a social media site. Not to mention, a prosecutor's argument that seems to have been cobbled together last week, based on the evidence and witnesses. All this would make a very interesting talk show, if someone's livelihood didn't hang in the balance.