Bloomberg is closing 25 public schools…what is wrong with this picture?????

Mayor Bloomberg and the NYC DOE in their infinite wisdom have placed 25 public schools on the chopping block! I know this is not supposed to be a political blog but on this issue I can find no middle ground. The bottom line is this: it is 110% wrong! I would also like to give due props to the NY1 news teams for their in-depth coverage on this important story. They have had a feature story each morning on all the schools. It’s a wonderful 180 from their policy of the past, when they dared not say anything negative about the Mayor.

In every single one of these stories, there has been outrage and noise made by students, parents, teachers, and principals, wholeheartedly against these forced closings! To even consider proceeding with these closures is absolute lunacy! If there is so much passion for a school that is more than enough reason to not close its’ doors! If people love a school, then it can be improved, and it should be saved. There should be no debate about this!

Let’s take one example to look at further: Jamaica High School‘s door will be closing soon despite many protests! Parents, students, and teachers tried to have a judge put a stop to the closure, but to no avail! So, what have they done with this beautiful building that is perfect for a school? They have made four of these “small schools.” So you ask what does that mean? It means that for max 1000 kids there are four people earning a full principals salary! Meanwhile, Francis Lewis High School, has 1500 students and only one principal! Please tell me what is wrong with this picture? Supposedly, the education system is broke and yet we have the money to pay for four principals!?!?!? It’s absolutely ludicrous!

You may ask, what kind of schools are being forced to shut their doors? How about a school that caters to pregnant teens or teens with babies? Where else will these children be able to turn for, where they can get an education and have free childcare? Where will these, mostly minority students end up? Several technical schools are also on the chopping block. The bottom line is that college is not for everyone and these technical schools offer a viable alternative.

The bottom line is that for once, Mayor Bloomberg and the NYC DOE need to put our children first! I implore you, please do not close even one of these schools!

How to Encourage Good Study Habits and a Life Long Love of Learning????

I was inspired to write this post after a tutoring session with one of my new clients. She is a high school sophomore, who has really been struggling with Chemistry. Thus far, she has failed the vast majority of her tests. Her father employed me a week ago to help improve her grades. Unfortunately, we were only able to work together twice before her Chemistry midterm. Consequently, she only earned a 65 on her Chemistry midterm and in fact, the same low-grade on her Global midterm. (I was actually unaware that she was struggling so much with Global as well.)

As is often the case, she likes her Global teacher, but does not feel the Chemistry teacher has taught her anything the entire year. I do not believe in putting down other teachers, so I will not do so here. I do know that she had little to no understanding of the topics in Chemistry she should have mastered by now and will definitely need to know for the upcoming Regents Examinations. When asked to show how to write electron configuration, she had absolutely no idea how to proceed. Even basic things like the meaning of atomic number and atomic weight, she was struggling with! In the four hours we worked together before the midterm, I showed her a systematic way to solve electron configuration based on the way I learned. I taught her the meanings of each Quantum Number: N l ML and Ms and showed her how to make a table that would make it a lot easier to write a full-out electron configuration for each element.

She knew how to do it, but as often happens when a student knows the material, but is not 100% comfortable with the methods, she answered the exact questions she got right with me, incorrectly on her midterm! Even during our next session when I asked her the same questions, she was able to answer them correctly. So, what was the problem on the midterm? She did not follow the prescribed steps we had gone over to arrive at the correct answer. Particularly, with the Sciences, it is essential to find a method that works and most importantly, to use it each and every single time!

So onto the main point of this post….needless to say, my student’s father was EXTREMELY unhappy with his daughter’s midterm grades! I was really pleased to hear him tell her that: “in our house, lower than an 85 is failing!” He then proceeded to strip her of her phone, laptop privileges, and all after school extracurricular activities! As expected, she was pretty angry with the situation, but I was ecstatic! It always makes me happy, when parents act like parents, and demand the most of their children. The bottom line is that not all students are A students, but this particular girl is very bright, and she should be an A student! Her parents know this and are pushing for her to realize it as well!

At home is where good study habits and a lifelong passion and love for learning develop. It is our parents who first model for us what it means to be a student. It is essential for parents to constantly be learning themselves, to always have reading material around the home. Also, make sure even at the young age of 1-year-old, a child should be taken to the public library, in my opinion, at least once a week. As a child, I knew every librarian’s first name and they all knew me. Consequently, the Brooklyn Public Library is still one of my most favorite places in the world and I still go there at least once a week!

If you start your children off on the right path, they will develop an insatiable thirst for knowledge, which will always serve them well, in school, college, work, and beyond! In short, it will make them a better human being and we all owe our children that!

What do you think? How else can we inspire our children to become lifelong learners?

 

I am a BROKE College Student….Why do I need to sell a kidney so I can buy my science textbooks?!?!?!?!

So….today I finished the third day of the new Spring 2012 term at Medgar Evers College. I’m psyched, especially since this is my last full term of prereqs, only one class, Developmental Psychology left! On the other hand I am taking Organic Chemistry I, Microbiology 403, and the last section of Anatomy and Physiology, three sciences with labs, and SUPER challenging sciences at that! So basically, I can kiss any semblance of a social life goodbye until May 24 and will be renting a desk in the library for the duration! It’s only the third day and I can barely keep my eyes open to write this post!!!

So…once again I digress…(I think this sentence has shown up in every one of my posts!!!)…on to the main subject of this post. Can anyone give me some semblance of a logical reason for why textbooks for college science courses need you to donate organs to pay for??!!?? Usually, I rely on handy used book search engines and Amazon to score deeply discounted used textbooks. However, much to my chagrin when I looked up the ISBN for my Organic Chemistry text, the absolute cheapest available was $250.00!!!!! What’s wrong with this picture?!?!? It’s very common knowledge that being broke goes hand in hand with being a full-time college student. It’s the exception to come across a college student swimming in dough and almost always it’s their parents dough not theirs! I am going to college, like most others, in hopes to eventually make some money off this enormous investment of my time and money!

So, you ask what happened? Did I have to donate blood to pay for my Organic books??? Well, it turns out the Medgar Evers College bookstore has a special soft cover package of the same text packaged with the lab book as well for a measly $246.00. (Please note I write measly with the greatest degree of sarcasm available!) Pardon my vulgarity, but the bottom line is the publishers have college students by the cajones! What choice do we have? I need to read the book so I can get an A but I also resent having to pay that much to earn an A!

The scariest thing is that I bet the book probably costs McGraw Hill max $15.00 to print! That’s a VERY handsome profit! The publishers lack of pity for the college students’ pocketbook is beyond alarming!

So I am sure I am the millionth student to complain about the unfairness of this situation but have I, or you actually done anything about it besides bellyache? NO..and why pray tell is that??? Because the bottom line is there is not a d*mn thing any of us can do about it!!!

I am more than open to suggestions…does anybody have one?

Why Doesn’t the US Adopt a FREE College System…like the rest of the Western World!?!?!?!

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So….I know this is a topic that has been, in many senses beaten to death, but there has been no headway made, so I guess, what could the harm of me putting my two cents into the ring? I have a sort of odd association that first comes to my mind when thinking about this topic. I have a subscription to Time Magazine (mainly because it’s a weekly for only $20 a year and yes, I am one of the few 20 somethings who actually enjoys reading the written word on paper and owns not one product from Apple! But, once again, I digress…) In one of the recent issues of Time, there was a two page picture of a newborn, and the title said, “Hi! My name is Sophia and I was born in January, 2012 and I can already tell you some things about myself.” One balloon that really jumped out at me stated: by the time I am 21, my parents will have spend $150,000 on a private college education, if I was born in Germany it would be free. How can this be? In the greatest free country in the world, the champion of freedom and equality, a college education, and therefore, a pathway to a better life and advancement can cost so much, yet, across the ocean it costs a citizen absolutely NOTHING?!?!?!? What’s wrong with this picture!?!?!? As someone with over $50,000 of student loan debt, I speak from personal experience. At the end of day, unless you are extremely wealthy or extremely poor (qualifying for the ludicrously low standards for grants set by the Feds), in order to attend college you will have to agree to put yourself into a significant amount of debt. I basically just try to never think about it, and optimistically assume that, one day I will be able to make a dent in paying it back.

I think at the heart of this issue is the fact, that student loans were originally set up by the Feds as a way for low and middle income students to afford a higher education. They were NEVER EVER supposed to be a for-profit industry. However, industry giants like Sallie Mae, EdFinancial, and Great Lakes, are literally making millions on interest and repayment at the expense of US college students. Why? Is it because they donate millions to political campaigns and have lobbyists with extremely deep pockets in our capital? I cannot definitively prove it, but I would put good money on it.

So, as a country what are we suppose to do? Obama has attempted to make sweeping legislative change, but as basically with everything he has tried to do since 2008, the GOP has fought him tooth and nail for every inch. So, I guess it’s up to us, ordinary Americans. We simply have to bring this to the attention of our elected representatives. We put them there and they work for us, we must hold them accountable for their votes! This means insisting financial aid for a college education go through some drastic changes! Let’s start with a fixed interest rate throughout the lifetime of the loan, expanding the Federal Work Study Program, Pell Grants, and other grant programs. Additionally, how about making majors where there is an immense demand, such as science and engineering, cheaper for students who agree to work an agreed upon number of years in these fields. Most importantly, a ten year limit, if you have not been able to pay back any of your debt by then, the loans will be forgiven!

If Europe, can make a free higher education system work, it is to the benefit of all Americans if we do so too! Demand reform and accept nothing less!

What do you think would work and should be used to fix this immense problem?

Thanks for your ideas and for reading! Have an awesome weekend!