Archive for April, 2013

Cycling the Boston Post Road

April 29, 2013

cos cob

Perhaps it comes as a result of too much Whitman and Kerouac in the bloodstream but ever since I was a kid and I learned of it snaking its way through the city I’ve been intrigued with the Boston Post Road, the Indian trail that, higgily piggily, became the oldest highway in America. It was not, of course, the car strewn thoroughfare paved of bituminous macadam found everywhere in the USA that I was moved to see, but rather the ghosts of that first, fabled mysterious road.

Or whatever remained therein.

map

I wanted to get a glimpse of the road that Paul Revere had ridden to warn of the coming of the redcoats, that General George Washington had fought to secure during the Revolutionary War, that President George Washington had lit out on for his first presidential tour, and all the rest of that early American boyhood school book stuff.

wagon

My interest was piqued considerably by a chance discovery of The King’s Best Highway by Eric Jaffee, a beautifully written and witty history of the road which I’d recommend to anyone who has an interest in the thing.

With the coming of spring I set out to see what I could see and, with trusty Trek in tow, boarded a Metro North New Haven line train to Stamford, Connecticut. My intention was to slowly wind my way down to New York along the Boston Post Road.
This I did, beginning with the nightmare of corporate architecture that is Stamford on through pretty Cos Cob and Greenwich, past working class Port Chester into pleasant Rye, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle and straight into the industrial entrails of the Bronx. Sadly, I saw no ghosts, only an odd plaque or two commemorating the way or some forgotten battle or general. But I did encounter a lot of beautiful architecture, a tiny old theatre where some great rock and roll bands once played, and a road that, like life, was seldom straight.

Here are some pics I took along the way.

Enjoy!

Welcome to Stamford

Jackie Robison 1

Statue of Jackie Robinson who lived in Stamford.

Statue of Jackie Robinson who lived in Stamford.

Entering the kingdom of Conde Nast

Entering the kingdom of Conde Nast

Along the way.

Along the way.

Church on the BPR<a href="https://raginghorse.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/

Putman monument

Putman Cottage 2

Graceful Greenwich

Graceful Greenwich

Church established in 1704

Cos Cob Volluter Fire Department

Welcome to New York

Entering Port Chester

Entering Port Chester

Capital Theater

Capital Theater

bands

Corporate America comes to Port Chester

Doorway of the Lifesavers Building

Lifesaver's Building

Lifesaver’s Building

Boston Post Road leaving Port Chester

Boston Post Road leaving Port Chester

The BPR entering Rye.

The BPR entering Rye.

Along the road in Rye.

Along the road in Rye.

BPR near the town of Rye.

BPR near the town of Rye.

Rye Crossroads

Downtown Rye

Monument for Rye Firefighters.

Monument for Rye Firefighters.

Sign in a window in Rye

Sign in a window in Rye

Smoke Shop

Smoke Shop

Rye High School

Rye High School

Doorway of Rye High School

Doorway of Rye High School

Wood frame house in Rye

Whitby Castle in Rye

Whitby Castle in Rye

Entering Mamaroneck

Good deal!

Good deal!

A family business survives

A family business survives

Little League

Mamaroneck FD

Mamaroneck scene

Old School House

The BPR in Larchmont

The BPR in Larchmont

Larchmont

Larchmont

Entering New Rochelle

Entering New Rochelle

Lovely house on the BPR entering New Rochelle

Roadside cemetary

Roadside cemetary

Tablet in New Rochelle 2

Armory in New Rochelle

For the Civil War dead of  New Rochelle

Modern

Modern

Empty Building

Empty Building

BPR leaving New Rochelle

BPR leaving New Rochelle

Leaving New Rochelle on the King's Highway

Leaving New Rochelle on the King’s Highway

King's Highway in Pelham Manor

King’s Highway in Pelham Manor

Old KINGS HIGWAY

The BPR over the Hutchinson Bridge

The BPR over the Hutchinson Bridge

A view of the Bronx from the BPR

A view of the Bronx from the BPR

A view of the Knucklehead from the BPR

A view of the Knucklehead from the BPR

Dyre Ave and the end of the journey.

Dyre Ave and the end of the journey.

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Resistance to High Stakes Testing Grows and Grows

April 27, 2013

cthe 4

If there is anything positive that can be said to have come out of the relentless billionaire backed corporate hijacking of public education, it is the building of communities of resistance.    In the end, after the initial shock wears off and the public relations campaigns are exposed as just that, almost nothing  can stronger create communities of resistance than attacks on one’s children in the guise of “reforming” their education.  This is that much the more when “reforming” their  education is little more than boiling it down to a number on a standardized test: the same number, mind you, that can be used to fire your child’s teacher and close your child’s school.

Such a community of resistance, hundreds strong, was in overwhelming evidence at a rally last night on the steps of the Tweed Court House, home of the NYC Department of Education. The crowd was united behind one overall goal:  the end of high stakes testing and all that goes with it.  As high stakes testing comprises nothing less than the central nervous system of corporate education reform, an end of the high stakes dictate would effectively paralyze their entire campaign. Corporations would lose out on a multi-billion dollar taxpayer guaranteed revenue stream which explains the insidious nature of the entire corporate education reform campaign.

cts 1

Organized by Change The Stakes (www.changethestakes.org) and Time Out From Testing (info@timeoutfromtesting.org), the rally drew parents, teachers, and students a like from all corners of the city and even a stray politician or two. ( Mayoral candidate John Lui was there.)  The rally  was a joy to  partake in and a joy to behold.    There will be more.  Many more. As many as it takes.

People will do what they have to do to protect their children.

CTS2

Fear and Loathing and the Common Core

April 18, 2013

CC g

This morning, like yesterday morning and the morning before that, I was complicit in the wholesale corporatization of American public school education, playing my small but essential role in a corporate experiment of unprecedented proportions and titanic intent.     This morning and yesterday morning and the morning before that, I, like thousands of my fellow teachers, administered to my students the first of a promised endless battery of New York State standardized tests.

It is hard not to feel demoralized if not utterly invisible administering such things, that much the more when you know that few in your profession had any say at all  in the production  of such things, that such tests are incapable of measuring and therefore subtly  dismiss the most sublime human gifts such as creativity,   and that they are designed, in large part, to strip teachers of our  autonomy.

And more than that:  you know that under the current data crazed evaluation systems, the outcomes of such these tests threaten your very livelihood.

It is harder still to believe that such emotions are not part of the design of the entire project.  After all, a cowed, terrified workforce is a compliant workforce and no word is more operative in today’s “new normal” school system than “compliance.”

The Pearson produced tests are all aligned to what are deceitfully  called the  Common Core State Standards, the first of countless tests to be so,  and as such are designed to insure the ten year olds in my charge were on track to be “college and career ready”, the better to help them succeed in the global economy and “win the future.”

And who can argue with that ?

I can.

I can because not only is such a notion of education limited and limiting to the point of vulgarity, but because everything about the Common Core State Standards Initiative, beginning with its name, stinks to high heaven. Everything about this privately funded, privately owned, secretly created scheme, sponsored by the un-elected National Governors Association and given pseudo academic legitimacy by the equally unelected but lofty sounding Council Of Chief State School Officers, is meant to obscure or hide altogether what the Common Core is, why it exists and how it came — ready or not —  to be rammed down the throat of almost every school kid in America  — including the ten year olds I saw pointlessly suffer through  it the  past three days.

Search the New York State Education website and you will find nothing about the Core’s (as it is now called) main funders, Bill and Melinda Gates, nothing about its fantastically lucrative connection to Pearson Publishing, who have already made millions and stand to reap billions of tax payer bucks creating more tests for our kids — beginning in kindergarten — than have ever been seen before in human history, nothing about the multi million dollar Common Core paraphernalia industry.

Lord of American Education

Lord of American Education

Seek and you will find nothing to indicate the “Core”, in Common Core is, in fact, nothing less than the arbitrary selections of educational entrepreneur and non teacher, David Coleman, pal of Michelle Rhee; he , who gets to pretty much single handedly decide what is and what is not important in our children’s education.

The Divine Decider

The Divine Decider

And this, does he , from sea to shining sea.

Seek and you will find nothing about the grossly coercive manner in which the Obama administration forced the Common Core upon cash starved states in exchange for their autonomy and enough strings attached to slowly strangle their teacher unions who insanely went along with it;  nothing about  the totalitarian ethic inherent in the Core that mandates that once “adopted “ ( what a disgracefully manipulative use of our language !) by a state not a single comma of the holy document could be altered.

Seek and you will find nothing to indicate the fact the “initiative” in the Common Core State Standard Initiative is the initiative not of states, teachers, or parents  but only that of its  super rich sponsors and   corporations. Seek and you will find nothing about the incredible fact that the vast experiment called the Common Core has never even been field-tested — even as it is utterly remaking the American public  school system as we breathe.

What kind of  people would do this ?

Nothing I can  think of  in the current political landscape more clearly illuminates the insidious transformation of the United States from a problematic democracy into an outright oligarchy and corporate fiefdom than the remarkable series of outrageous experiments currently  being performed on American public school children at the behest of a handful of unelected, wholly unaccountable,  madly narcissistic billionaires and their  corporate allies via the  machinations of their hirelings in elected office.  As yet, the most outrageous of these experiments is the Common Core and its concomitant testing frenzy than comes with it.  As many have pointed out,  the children of the  proponents of the Common Core go to schools that hold such stuff in outright disdain.

We should do as well. Those intrepid parents in the Opt Out movement are showing the way.  The testing industry is the central nervous system of the entire corporate education reform campaign.  If enough refuse to  feed it,  it will die.  If we continue to accept it,  our already deeply enfeebled democracy will.

Next year my child will enter  “a testing grade” and is therefore meant to share in the glories of the Common Core Initiative.  Let me rephrase that:  She will be forced to share in the glories of the Common Core Initiative.

Note:  as they are expanding their empire to kindergarten, next year just about everyone’s child is meant to share in the glories of the Common Core State Standard Initiative.

I do not know what will happen from now till then but I know this: My child will partake in this ruthless, rapacious corporate hustle over my dead body.