Member since May 21, 2011

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Updated on June 3, 2014 at 6:29 PM

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Born in Queens, NY, I traveled with family to the Tucson desert on the proverbial hippie bus about 35 years prior. Since then, I attended school for a total of about 20 years, have been a retail manager, tattoo artist, teaching assistant, and now a teacher of about 5 years. I have a teen daughter, 2 dogs, a cat and a couple of parakeets. I am a "townie", and enjoy cultural and musical events, reading, writing, and hiking in the mountains.

Latest Review

Re: “Brooklyn Pizza Company

Tasty and reasonable, although uncomfortable standing in line.

Posted by Ronni on 02/21/2015 at 5:32 PM

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Recent Comments

Re: “Which Has a Greater Effect On Student Achievement: Inequality/Poverty or Teachers/Schooling?

I no longer consider Ruby Payne PhD, to be an eminent "authority" on poverty in education, because her work, though broadly accepted in educational circles, is not based in scientific evidence. It is also rife with classism. Thank you.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Ronni on 02/01/2016 at 8:23 PM

Re: “Which Has a Greater Effect On Student Achievement: Inequality/Poverty or Teachers/Schooling?

Berliner has certainly made some good points. Here is a quote from another thinker on the subject: "Individuals who made it out of poverty usually cite an individual who made a significant difference for them." and, if you believe it, "The hidden rules of the middle class must be taught so students can choose to follow them if they wish".

For those of us who have been working in the public schools for some time, and have studied the affects of poverty from researchers such as Ruby Payne, PhD (whom is quoted above), the fact that poverty is a great inhibitor is a "no-brainer". And, although the quote above may be true for those who do in fact make it out of poverty, the problem remains that so many more children do not.

Take those of us who grew up in the Recession of the 1970's: Long before the influx of refugee and immigrant populations (though they were still here, albeit not in as great a number), we were struggling in an education system that was still mired in outdated methodologies AND experiencing poverty across the nation. The line between the "haves" and "have nots" in society and in educational accessibility were pretty clearly defined. As one of those "have nots" from that era, I can say honestly that, yes, although several individuals encouraged me to keep going academically, it was poverty that kept me from doing so at a practical pace. I am certain that I am not the only one of my generation that had to work full time, while attending junior college, or perhaps even during high school. And if we did "pull ourselves up by our bootstraps", it was because our parents, from the previous generation, believed in a good work ethic and in the "American Dream" or something similarly iconic.

Those of us (working poor) who did manage to make it to undergraduate and graduate programs, did so through years of blood, sweat and tears. I did not make more than minimum wage until I began teaching, at the advanced age of 41 yrs. I had to take out huge loans, and counted on scant scholarships to pick up part of the tab, while working part-time at the very least. Poverty was always looming (and still does, to a lesser degree) in my life. But I see MANY more parents, who live in abject poverty today...they don't believe in the "American Dream". They don't instill good work ethics or hope into their children; they live day to day, moment to moment, just staying above water; many more seem to have drug and mental problems, then pass these on to their kids. And no amount of masterful teaching, mandated curriculum, or standardized testing is fixing the problem.

So, even with studies such as those conducted by Payne and Berliner being shared with the public, the problem persists, while so few heed their words, or make any real changes at a societal level. Instead, rhetoric remains popular, like "Public schools are failing our kids", and "Liberals and (insert typical racist remark) are destroying our country and education!". And now, it looks as if the Donald Trumps of our society will dictate who should have and have not, further dividing society, and widening the gap to a "nearly free" and equal education for all. Sad, sad times.

12 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Ronni on 07/15/2015 at 1:23 PM

Re: “Are Too Many Black Children in Special Education Programs?

I have seen first hand the effects of a child being passed over for special or exceptional education. And I have not seen a disproportionate number of African American kids in SPED programs, at least not here. Because districts are so concerned about racial equity, it seems as if, sometimes, students of color are passed over for child study. We are encouraged to try every intervention first, before requesting an IEP meeting. The list of "identified" students seems to get longer every year, and they don't all end up in SPED/EX Ed programs. Whether this is due to an overburdened system, racial equity issues, or a lack of identification is not clear...I'm sure it varies from school to school. But one thing I really wish is that readers and those who comment would stop making politically and racially-charged assumptions. They have little or no understanding of what is going on in education, and a very one-sided grasp of what is going on in society. This is just one study. There are no easy answers. "Get on birth control, stop making poor kids" is not a very helpful suggestion.

7 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Ronni on 06/26/2015 at 9:53 AM

Re: “Structured Recess and Brain Breaks

I can attest to how good an idea this is. I can also attest to the fact that teachers already knew this, and have been implementing for at least 4 years. Some of the less physical teachers may not have had "structured" play in place, because they were often required to participate (something some older and physically challenged teachers have difficulty with), but where there's a will, there's a way! is a LIFESAVER! Students respond to it in a big way, and during transitions of 3-5 minutes, it barely takes from instructional fact, compared to all the time wasted redirecting and dealing with behavior issues, getting up and moving to goofy music videos or almost meditational offerings is much more preferable. At first, "structured play" sounds very 1984, but if done right, can give the kids a real boost physically, mentally, as well as emotionally. And since PE teachers are a thing of the past, we need this. I hope it becomes part of our "mandated curriculum", but really, it's a no-brainer idea that we don't really need to legislate, unless we are protecting it!

3 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Ronni on 05/25/2015 at 10:22 AM

Re: “TUSD Found in Violation of State Law

It's kind of a Catch 22: TUSD is under a Unitary Status Plan, so must conform to making schools as racially diverse as possible...including their curriculum. Therefore, they have changed enrollment options to accommodate open-enrollment and school choice (focus schools, magnets). If they do not conform to achieve multi-cultural equity, they are breaking the law in the eyes of the court. If TUSD allows classes that focus on racial issues to attract students, they are breaking the law in the eyes of the state. It is easy to roast TUSD for being corrupt or inadequate, but are charter schools and other districts really any better? TUSD just gets too much publicity, because it is so huge. The state of Arizona has had it in for the district for years now. Many seem to think it is justified, so they say things like "dismantle the district" and "hang TUSD". So, what do all you geniuses propose? Thousands of students, many below the poverty level, would be out of school, or scrambling to be enrolled at already crammed charters. Thousands of good people, teachers, aides, and staff who do nothing but work all day for the benefit of students, would be out of work. Got a solution for that? This state is on a downward slide of epic, McCartharian proportions, and the witch-hunt mentality is bound to continue with the next state administration. TUSD still has much house-cleaning to do, for sure, but the "grab your pitchforks" attitude of the politicians and public will not solve anything. Taking 10% of state funding will only hurt children, at the end of the day. Post-racial society is not achieved by burning public school students and employees. It is achieved by a paradigm shift in the attitudes of the general public and its so-called "leaders".

17 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Ronni on 01/03/2015 at 1:49 PM

Re: “Schools, Society And Snake Oil Salesmen

I have worked in poverty-stricken neighborhoods and Title 1 schools for most of my career, and I can definitely see the correlation between poverty and performance.

Many commenters above make good points: there has been an aura of low expectations surrounding the education of the poorest and most troubled students...I have seen this first hand. But it is also true that this is becoming a thing of the past, as "new blood" enters the teaching work-force. It is also true that teacher pay plays a major role in the quality of teacher a district will attract. It would be great if all teachers were so altruistic, that they were willing to work in thankless, brutal conditions, simply because they love teaching and wish to make a difference. But these kind of teachers are few and far between.

Politicos on both sides of the aisle have tried to address the problem, but continue to muddy the waters, because of their own agendas. They claim to be working for the public good, that they represent the parents, students and teachers. But none of this is entirely true. As David pointed out, as long as money comes into the question, and where to spend it, who deserves it, and who does not, education in this country will continue to suffer.

Then there is our state's policy (and others as well) of punitive measures toward teachers and schools. How can a poorly performing school and its surrounding community be expected to become more involved and pull out of a nose dive of failure, when they are continually losing funding, then resources, and finally good teachers?

I have seen this happen in as little as two years while at a southside school. The despair was palpable, as news of closing schools, slashed budgets, an layoffs of even the most valued staff filtered down to the students. And that brings me to the students themselves.

Every year, a new mandate comes along to drive the curriculum toward teaching to the latest test and the newest standards. However, the populations coming in are more troubled and poorer than ever... many have been bounced from school to school , either because their home school was closed, or their parents are following the job closest to their kids' school, or both. Some kids are coming in with no prior socialization or academic exposure, are from broken homes, or are fleeing with family from dangerous and corrupt societies.

We who work with them are expected to wear many hats of responsibility, including the actual job-description of "teacher", and we do it because we want to help, or because it must be done. Many times these responsibilities extend beyond the school day...we are, for some kids, the most involved adults in their lives, and our schools the safest place for them. Take that away, and the social issues of poverty, mental illness and crime multiply. And still there are no easy answers...and won't be, until poverty, mental illness and the value of teachers is honestly and completely addressed.

Posted by Ronni on 08/23/2014 at 10:28 AM

Re: “Bum Steer on Auction Block Next Month

This place deserves a revival. So few genuinely "cool" places anymore, all of the restaurant/bars nowadays have prefab, fakey atmospheres...might as well party in an Ikea.

C'mon, it's a piece of history, and it could be grand it could mean jobs!

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Ronni on 07/30/2014 at 6:36 PM

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