domingo, julio 16, 2006


on the menu today

Rethinking Schools' latest issue has a feature on what kids are eating at school. Child nutrition is an issue that is very near and dear to my heart... and an issue that frustrates me regularly during the school year as I watch my kids bring "lunches" that consist of a Coke and Hot Cheetos. The article ends on a hopeful note, but it's sad that nothing ever happens efficiently in the public school system.

in other news, mr. babylon got canned. he's a refreshing change from the "i love children and teaching is my joy!" bloggers that make my teeth ache, but sometimes (as i also refer to my teacher buddy that grew up in the Bronx) was a little rough around the edges. ah well. i'm sure i can find some Teach for America fish-out-of-water blog to fill the same niche. i stopped heavily reading the teacher blogger circuit at the beginning of last year so i have no idea who's out there now. any suggestions?

sábado, julio 15, 2006



hookahs and swimming make for yet another lovely summer.

i have been quite disgruntled about my training last week... it was five days of fairly useful information (certainly the most useful training i've ever had) but the presenter was culturally ignorant and misused a helluva lot of words for someone with a PhD. mostly i've just been irritated about having to waste my day indoors with a bunch of teachers. since i overindulged in hookahs and XX one night, i showed up an hour late to my training, and was promptly assigned lunch detention. yesterday this woman set up a table to sell her handmade jewelry. at the district-funded workshop she is leading. FREAK.

funny story, while i'm on the delinquent track. just to remind everyone how irresponsible (and lucky) i can be, ahora les voy a contar algo... habia una vez una maestra que tenia que tomar un examen para recibir su certificacion de ensenanza (sorry about the lack of accents, i'm on a sketchy PC at the moment). tomo un examen por la manana y dos por la tarde.. una cosa bien rara, porque no es recomendado tomar mas de dos examenes en un dia. durante el almuerzo, esta maestra decidio que tuviera que divertirse y se echo un mexican martini - una bebida bien fuerte muy parecida a una margarita. pues, no es una sopresa que se emborracho. y asi regreso al sitio del examen. a causa del alcohol, se puso muy dormida y tomo una siestitita mientras los demas estaban trabajando en sus examenes. se desperto despues de un ratito, termino rapidamente los dos examenes y se fue.

y los resultados? mas de 90% correcto en ambos examenes. suerte o talento? quiensabe.

sábado, julio 01, 2006



i haven't blogged this much in months. i was reading stuff from last year and apparently i did lots of teaching reflections and list-making. in the spirit of the latter, these are the albums that have been rocking my world lately:
  • Stars, Set Yourself on Fire

  • Gotan Project, Lunatico

  • The New Pornographers, Twin Cinema

  • Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

  • Julieta Venegas, Limon y sal

  • The last non-local live shows I saw were The Essex Green, The Roots, and The Twilight Singers (featuring Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs). I've got tickets for Bloc Party in August and I can't wait... I'm flying my 15 yr old cousin down from Philly so he can see them, it'll be his first concert!

    Books I've read recently:
  • Augusten Burroughs, Running With Scissors

  • Douglas Coupland, Eleanor Rigby

  • David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day

  • I'm in the middle of Asne Seierstad's amazing The Bookseller of Kabul and I've been reading Salman Rushdie's Shalimar the Clown on and off for the last two months. Last month's National Geographic had a wonderful feature on soccer, with stories much like this one.

    The best new movie I've seen in awhile is The Proposition, written by Nick Cave. I saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and The 40 Year Old Virgin last week and loved them both. Nacho Libre was a guilty pleasure, The Omen was stupid, X-Men 3 made me cry, and The Da Vinci Code was disappointing.

    ...and i'm out!


    planton en oaxaca

    This story is getting widely circulated. A struggle by teachers throughout the state has turned violent and chaotic. We're asked to write letters of support.

    From: David Riker (forwarded through Monty Neil of FairTest)

    Dear Friends,

    I'm writing about the situation in Oaxaca. As I write, the capital city is under siege. At approximately 5 AM this morning the state police attacked the teachers occupation of the city center. Though reports are sketchy, it seems that three teachers have been killed, as well as a young girl. The teachers have taken three or four police hostage. A raging battle is underway to control the zocalo, the center of life in Oaxaca, and the heart of the teacher's encampment. In the dawn raid the teachers were forced out, but the local paper, Noticias de Oaxaca, has reported that at 9:30 AM local time the teachers, armed with rocks and sticks, re-took the main square. Police are firing tear gas from helicopters right now. Thousands (tens of thousands) of people are involved in running battles in the streets. And there is the fear that upwards of 3500 federal riot police -- deployed to Oaxaca in the last two weeks by Vicente Fox -- are about to enter the city.

    I've just gotten off the phone with friends in the center. They described the scene on the streets this morning at about 7:30 AM. Hundreds of people crying from the mix of tear gas, smoke bombs and some other pepper spray. The men forming groups to launch the assault to retake the zocalo. Mothers telling their boys to take care of themselves as they fell into line. From the rooftops of the single story houses you can watch the helicopters flying overhead shelling tear gas canisters into the crowds. There is a heavy fear, but also, I was told, you could hear the sound of people marching and singing.

    As a brief background, you might want to read: or

    The teachers occupation of the city, known in Spanish as a 'planton' began 23 days ago. More than 80,000 teachers from every municipality in the state had converged on the capital to press a list of demands for more resources for education. They have had two mass marches, the most recent bringing more than 120,000 people out, the largest demonstration in the city's history. The planton has become an annual event since more than a decade, and I will never forget last year's planton which happened while I was still living there. For about ten days the teachers occupied the entire center of town, sleeping on the streets under tarpaulins stretched overhead. They were extremely well organized and the city center was never more alive. The teachers and their families would cook large meals on open fires, play guitar and sing, rest on folded cardboard in the shade. They set up their radio station "Radio Planton" and played music on loud speakers. There were first aid tents, propaganda tents, mass meetings on every corner.

    This year, many have remarked that the planton, and the teachers' mobilization generally, has been different. The question is: If the teachers brought 80,000 to the city, who are the other 40,000? I'm not close enough to give a good answer, but what I understand is that the teachers have offered an opening which hundreds of small community groups and social justice centers from around the state have chosen to follow. The past two years under the new PRI governor Ulises Ruis has intensified the level of state repression. Scores of activists in small villages have been killed, hundreds arrested and still in jail as political prisoners. The spike in repression was so great that Amnesty International sent a delegation to Oaxaca in May of 2005 to investigate. It appears that when the teachers marched on the capital three weeks ago they were joined by tens of thousands of others from the villages in what is becoming a broad movement to depose the governor. Ruis has refused to meet with the teachers, and has managed to pull in his party's promissory notes to about half of the state's municipal mayors who signed a decree condemning the teachers action. But there is a palpable sense that the social movements are converging and that something new is underway.

    During the past three weeks, the movement has shown a great level of strength and creativity -- occupying the city's airport, smashing the newly-installed parking meters throughout the city center, occupying the toll booths on the main road from Oaxaca to Mexico City -- not to stop the cars, only to stop the collecting of tolls, and the very fact that they have occupied the zocalo has great significance as the new governor, after spending upwards of $100 million to 'beautify' the zocalo, decreed that it was now off-limits for any demonstrations.

    Three nights ago, Ruis met with business leaders at a late night gathering and promised to use the 'mano dura' or hard hand. There were reports that the first 1500 federal riot police were camped in the nearby town of Tlacolula. This morning the governor appears to have proven himself a man of his word. Some reports have said that the tear gas in the city center is so thick you can't see the hand in front of you.

    I have not seen any reports in the US media, BBC etc. There is some information on indymedia's Mexico site, some more on the online version of Noticias de Oaxaca -- both in Spanish. ( I know that the police have shut down the teachers' radio station 'Radio Planton' but as of 12:00 noon Oaxaca time the students' radio station 'Radio Universitario' was still broadcasting and "you can hear the broadcast from every window and door in town." The students themselves have occupied the university, but the latest reports suggest that the police are heading there now.

    I'm writing this in the hope that you can help spread the word, and alert others in the network of media to turn their attention to the struggle ongoing.

    In solidarity,


    You can write directly to the governor of Oaxaca in English or in Spanish. Fill out a comment form on his website at: George Sheridan


    new york photos


    can i get a hell yeah?!?

    many of you know that i paint and have a deep love for art. a month ago, i took the texas all-level certification exam to teach art. my score came in today:

    Test: 005 Art (All-Level)

    Total Scaled Score: 84
    Status: Passed

    Awareness, Basic Design & Organization 48 40

    Indv Exprsn:Tools, Matls, Tchnqs & Mthds 64 48

    Art, Culture and Heritage 40 31

    Aesthetic Growth and Development 20 20

    Art Instruction 28 25


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