SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: The Broad Brush Of Bill Grundfest

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Broad Brush Of Bill Grundfest


I would first and foremost like to thank Bill Grundfest for appearing on the radio show Wednesday night. Bill, it took chutzpah. I doff my teacher's hat to you.

I was thinking all day today on what I wanted to write concerning Wednesday night. What stood out to me. What did I walk away with. Solidaridad has an awesome critique of of the show (and I am adding it to my links). There are many things I can write about, but I keep coming back to how you paint with an extremely broad brush.

Bill, you kept calling the neighborhoods, and the students "rotten." First, these neighborhoods are not rotten. People live there, people work there, people grow up there. Yes, there are not a lot of good things in these neighborhoods, but there are a lot more of good things. Unfortunately, the negative always is the bigger attention grabber.

I have worked in the South Bronx my entire teaching career. I do not ever claim to have the answers for what is happening in the neighborhoods, but I do know that I am a guest, and that I need to keep my eyes and ears open. The student population of my school is almost entirely from the projects. In these projects live gang bangers, drug dealers, prostitutes, civil service workers, secretaries, soccer moms, soccer dads, blue collar workers, it runs the entire gamut. Which brings me to my second observation.

You keep bringing up the DATA. Yes, the data brought up of teacher effectiveness in the Los Angeles Times. By the way, here is how MR Richard Buddin crunched the numbers. I dare you to explain it to me.

Bill, you should know how easily data can be manipulated. Look at how the Bush Administration manipulated the data in the run up to the Iraq War. Heck, even Hitler manipulated data concerning Jews. Tasha Yar manipulated Data (sorry for the Star Trek connection. First person that explains it gets dinner!) Every politician manipulates data. Data is now, and has been manipulated by Mayor Bloomberg for years concerning NYC schools.

And my last point, which connects with your love affair with data. Just because Class A and Class B in the same school, in the same grade have different results, please stop claiming that all the kids are the same because they all come from the same demographics. Are all Jewish children from Scarsdale the same? Each child, whether they are upper class, middle class, working class, or live in poverty do have one thing in common. Each and everyone of their lives are different. Each has had different life experiences. Like no two snowflakes are alike, no two children are alike. Yes, even identical twins.

We never know what happens behind closed doors of someone's home. All we can assume, and should is that what is unique to that family is unique. Children are such subjective creatures, we can't toggle them into one way of thinking. One day is as different as the day before.

Bill, you are OK in my book. I hope I have made a friend, I hope if and when I am out in LA again we can go to a Dodgers game, and I hope you will be a guest on the show again.