Coming Around, Slowly and Surely

In October 2014, I wrote Logic Applied……nothing new under the sun. in response to Jim Plagakis in Drug Topics. I needed to write the piece as  the once money-making enterprise, being a pharmacist, finally become an issue for reflection – at what price is the salary providing satisfaction in professional and personal spheres of life? As long as the money was good, it seems pharmacists were willing to overlook so much regarding their profession. This does not mean pharmacists do not work hard as I know otherwise. The good pharmacists work long, hard and diligent hours on behalf of their patients.

What the reflection does mean is pharmacists are finally realizing they have  the reasons and power to change their profession in general and healthcare specifically.  Their job is no longer one in which the pharmacist works for one employer for life. People such as Oluwole Williams realized it was not about the legacy, rather it was about thinking what one could do with their experience and knowledge within a specific field. Mr. Williams addressed a number of wonderful and promising ideas in the Dispensed as Written column of which I only could have added Peace Corps Volunteer. And then Kelly Howard wrote 2015: The #YearOfTheRPh, where she explained a very personal situation which changed her for the better.

There is the thinnest glimmer of hope in thinking the pharmacy profession will reach into the 21st Century. More and more pharmacists are seeing the bigger picture and looking at what they can do to create change rather than talking about what should be done. It is inspiring as pharmacy is a field which can change people’s lives. Instead of licking, sticking and filling, pharmacists can provide patients a degree of education and efficacy in the medicinal choices they make. It has been a long time coming and I am thrilled.

Instead of hospitals, insurance companies  and health care institutions defining good patient care, pharmacists now can look at how to use their fulcrum.  Amazingly this benefits ‘patients’ and  students – those who study the sciences. There will be new opportunities and careers allowing people to use knowledge and skills in different ways.

As a pharmacy tech, I am looking forward to being able to work with people who will take an interest in their patients as people and DOP’s who have an interest in more than cost metrics. Clearly Ms. Howard indicated it is time for those in the pharmacy and medical fields to stop being doormats. This is all it takes – one or two people to decide the profession has to change.

As a teacher, I am inspired to see people taking on the corporate mentality. Sharing with others the varied and rich options available through what used to be seen as a stagnated degree is exactly what education needs to see. Teachers, similar to pharmacists, have been licking, sticking,counting and ‘filling’ (in the case of teachers, student brains) far too long.  If the long-standing tradition of pharmacy can change, surely education can progress as well.

What We Saw From the Cheap Seats……and what a view it was

The metaphor – timely. The content, based on interviews I have listened to from Regina Spektor, telling in her life and her parent’s life pre-America.  The ‘cheap seats’ are really where stuff happens and if you are not there, you just don’t really have a grasp for understanding.

The cheap seat view is actually the one which matters – it levels the playing field, so to speak. It is seldom the seat people in U.S. Government or Military use which is why  Ambassador Christopher Stevens stood out, based on what Ambassador Ryan Crocker has said. Christopher, having done Peace Corps, understood what needed to be seen from the cheap seats and this seems to be the very message missed in the castigation of Hilary Clinton by our Congress.

The cheap seats allow us to appreciate immigration reform and why children, who arrived in America as illegal immigrants, should be allowed to become educated and contributing members of our society – in spite of their parentage.  The cheap seats allow us to understand things such as the gross and overwhelming disparity in socioeconomics and educational outcomes (impoverished families have little reading material in the house/home/hovel), why sometimes a little help to get to the bottom rung of the ladder pays immense dividends (Jeffrey Sachs and debt relief in third world) and how those who have little will struggle more to get an education rather than those who already ‘have’ and just wish to express their xenophobia by making life difficult for others less fortunate.  Cheap seats help us understand why the most marginalized people lack  work habits and organization skills, self-regulation, literacy and engagement (Charlotte Danielson) since so much of their life is often in chaos – from poverty, from war, from lack of access to food, sleep, and all the other portions of Maslow’s Hierarchy.

What the cheap seats can not do is help us open our eyes.  We open our eyes based on our experience and willingness to experience that which is substantially different.  The cheap seats are apparently what Abraham Lincoln, Bill Clinton and Barak Obama have sat in – they get it and have an appreciation for how things are done by others who lack the  budgets of largesse.  The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, fictional as it is, definitely is a wonderous cheap seat view. The very quote, “The things we thought we needed.’ point out the differential of what we wish to believe and what we learned to understand and appreciate.

Every once in a while I have to encourage people to take a view from the cheap seats so the real work which needs to be done can actually be viewed, apart from the perceived work to be done. An example of this is NCLB, where test scores were deemed the solution to an academic crisis, completely missing the piece about some needing to get to the bottom rung of the ladder.  The pendulum is finally swinging back and taking in academic standards which are not ‘lower’ to meet a minimum threshold of test scores.

“Very difficult,” Clinton responds. “We have to ask you, based on our best assessments, what we need to do our jobs.”

It will be a long slog out of the NCLB mind-set, most especially the castigation of teachers by the public. The next few years are going to be both traumatic and dramatic as we shift from test scores ruling out decisions to deeper academics. Our students just are not there. Taking high scoring students and putting them in a different classroom is akin to playing Schrodinger’s Cat. Time will tell. The cheap seats, the ones used when we attempted to cut all corners and raise test scores, may just be the best seats in the house to understand the hurdles we have to overcome in order to get THERE from here.

“We have to do some work. That work requires we stay engaged,” she says. (Clinton)

As the State Department and Secretary of State-Hilary Clinton has stated, “We have learned things” and we will be applying what we learned. Amazingly, we would have never learned a thing if we had not sat in the cheap seats.

Clinton says: “This is my ongoing hope, that we can get it more right than wrong.”

Clinton said her department is acting to implement recommendations made by the review board.  I can only hope the U.S. Board of Ed is acting to implement some better recommendations than NCLB.

My Race ‘Lessons’

Two very important things have happened in my life which helped me clarify the difference  between race and behavior and how behavior can indeed be related to a race by ‘their’ choice, not by my observation.  Fortunately for me I was raised in what now seems an idealized heterogeneous world………meaning every possible combination of race, religion, disability, sexuality and all the other isms.  Currently I live in what has to be the Craig Venter lab for heterogeneity – N. California bay area -if you can not find it here, it plain does not exist.

My parents raised me in such a way as I did not understand people were different other than good or bad. You were either a good person (however you qualify that) or a bad person, again how you qualify the description. I don’t remember my family using race as a qualifier – it had to do with being involved in the community, being a nice person just because you were and equally, if you were bad, you were bad at the bone, not at the skin. I had a father who made sure I saw the inside of every possible organized religious center (except Mormon, for obvious reasons) and was told he did not care what I grew up to believe as I long as I respected everyone elses views which were sure to be in some ways different from mine.

In addition, I was pretty convinced at a young age I was ‘African’ because we all came out of Africa and I just happened to be lighter skinned (obviously this will upset some one and I am sorry, but I have read the anthropology).  By time I was 10 years old, I knew I was going to the continent of Africa (and I knew it was a continent with very different people as I had met Africans- Muslims, Christians and Animists) and ultimately I did with Peace Corps. My Peace Corps grandmothers looked like me – skin color and nappy hair. They were more surprised their Peace Corps Volunteer was not white and did not have a red one piece Speedo (all the re-runs sold to various African countries of Baywatch). I was ecstatic they looked like me – it was confirmation I was from Africa.

None of this prepared me for two major events which helped me understand behavior.

In graduate school I developed  great friendships with two very important women. One was a light-skinned black women who was a naturalized Jamaican. Her mother had been a maid for white families. When she was 10, she came to America. She gave nobody any excuses for not getting educated and held herself to high standards.  She taught me poverty was a circumstance; being educated was a choice.  I consider this woman my ‘twin’ separated at birth and it is unfortunate we are a few shades off in skin color or we could pass this way!

The other friend was an American/Kenyan.  She was born here to parents who were Kenyan and studied at Cornell University during the time the U.S. wanted to help educate people from Third World Countries.   She grew up in Kenya and came to the U.S. only for graduate school and was going back to Kenya, to improve Kenya.  What I learned from this young woman was that black Americans act in a way that is uncomfortable for black people from other parts of the world.  I learned this when a black man asked her for some change on Broadway in NYC and she said, “You need to get a job and earn your money” and I was upset with her statement. I asked her how she could be that way and that became one of the best discussions of my life in understanding race versus behavior.

I taught for Aspire Public Schools in Oakland, CA when the principal(s) decided to use Your Black Muslim Bakery and affiliated organizations as our security guards.  Other than buying great sweet potato pies at the bakery, I was from S. California so did not know the ‘local’ history.  What I knew for certain was the men who were our guards, who dressed in suits with bow ties, acted oddly and made me more uncomfortable than the neighborhood.  (By this point in my life I had taught middle school in Compton, CA and lived/worked in Harlem, NY, lived in the burbs of Los Angeles and regularly was ‘around during various riots.)  I could not understand what made me uncomfortable – many of the men were attractive, they were somewhat polite but in an abstract way, they did not have Qurans….. So, during a staff meeting, I addressed my concerns in an open forum.  Another staff member supported me. I was later counseled privately  by my principal that I needed to ‘value the community I served’ as in, “You, young lady are racist and can not admit it.”  I was shocked that he was insinuating I was racist, so I went home and contacted my friends of the ‘United Nations’ (what I call my group of everyone from everywhere) and asked them to help me understand what I did that was racist. I told them I was going to make an appointment to see a psychologist to start working on this.   The next day I made the appointment.  I went to counseling. My friends could not give me any pointers then nor now as to what was wrong with me and they really did not think I was racist.  My psychologist felt I was pretty balanced, open-minded, willing to think through issues and did not fall under the typical classification of racist. This does not mean I am perfect, it means I took the situation seriously as I find racism offensive.

Later, over about 10 months, I came to find out who/what The Black Muslim Bakery and subsidiaries was about.  In the 11th month, I learned they were part of the people responsible for murdering Chauncey Bailey. I realized what made me feel ‘ishy’.  I was not used to being around ex-cons.

The one thing my parents failed at was integrating me into a world where I would interact with cons/felons.   I was not too angry though – my dad actually taught classes at the State of CA Women’s Prison in Southern CA and talked about it, but always made it such that society had let these people down, not that they had done something wrong so how could I blame him?  He wanted me to understand it was up to me to shape my community, not that people were inherently bad (except for sociopaths, which was ‘organic’ brain disease).

I know what it means to be the hated/despised one as I have been to South Africa. Many of the white people there dislike Jews as much as they dislike black people.  When I was there, I was a bit scared due to the fact that almost every 7-11 equivalent openly sells neo-nazi propaganda magazines and it is nothing to see swastikas in the ‘ghetto’ and nice areas.  I understand hate as there are people right now running to lead my government in America who believe I am inherently bad because I believe in Buddhism, Judaism and Animism.

I hear elderly people say (parents, parents friends, people here in the bay area of all colors) they do not like when the youth is out and menacing.  It is awkward for the elderly to not feel uncomfortable when people run around with their hoodies up…..do they have something to hide?  Are we kind of living a bit of Clockwork Orange?  I am not old enough to be though of as elderly so I can only go by what I hear.  I do know that a ‘normal’ person feels at a minimum ‘awkward’ (if they are being honest with themselves) when they are in downtown Oakland, at night and see people with hoodies up, pants sagging, etc.  According to what I heard on Michael Krasney today (NPR) when he was talking with people from Castlemont High School in Oakland Unified SD, there are kids which are afraid of the people in their environment.

So, all of this being stated, when some one decides to play the race card(s) as has been done lately (Trayvon Martin), I want to hear what the other side is saying/thinking.  I did not say what the other side is saying or thinking is correct, I want to hear it so I can make a proper judgement call based on my experiences.

I encourage others to ‘hear out’ the other side in the form of what is being called ‘restorative justice’ and then be critical.   In order to address the problem, we really do need to know is it race or is it behavior.  Calling it ‘race’ makes it easier to deal with immediately but dampens the overall issue, clouds up judgement and prevents people from sorting through the layers.

In my opinion, we have more of a problem in this country based on people’s BEHAVIOR and self-respect than we do about color. Heck, we managed to elect a black President.

26 March 2012  Forum with Michael Krasney

http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201203260900

Interview included:  Jabari Gray, James Taylor

And more has been revealed:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2012/03/26/national/a142150D15.DTL

Particularly of interest is the fact the parents took out rights to trademarks involving their sons name…….

The Dilemma Box of Teacher Preparation

http://www.npr.org/2011/05/10/136057240/ed-programs-assail-u-s-news-survey

Admittedly, I did grad school ‘much’ after the fact. I took time off between undergrad and graduate school to pursue all the random things out there in the world.  I was pretty sure before I attended grad school  the stakes were going to be much higher financially, time wise, perserverance and outcome  (it was – squared then cubed – still owing on student loan).  Grad school in my mind was an educational feast to be partaken when you knew what you loved to eat (besides dessert first!).   The plethora of jobs and varied W-2’s for taxes served as a kind of funky personal/sequential/interval/numerical time line  leading up to grad school and when I attended, it paid off in spades.  First off, I was ready for the big questions, the ideas, the thoughts and most importantly, weighing two or more ideas simultaneously and exploring the potential merits of all.  In no small part, my greatest preparation came from being a Peace Corps Volunteer which challenged my thinking at every turn. 

Graduate school was indeed a feast. I had wonderful professors, classmates and worked my bottom off to enjoy said feast.  I graduated and was pretty self assured questions were a part of the bigger picture of life – the more you thoughtfully asked, the more you gleaned.   In some respects I was more fortunate than my counterparts pursuing education as I earned an undergrad degree in Communicative Disorders (speech pathology/audiology) instead of general studies.  My science experiences were far more in depth and my appreciation of the dilemmas for learning disorders well above what the average teacher learns.  In some respects I was very unfortunate – I asked a great deal of questions and challenged what many people said about the learning process in graduate school.  I actually had the temerity to believe   Algebra taught behind a hut in Namibia while drawing in the sand  was of equal quality to that in a city classroom with 35 students.  I questioned ridiculous curricular programs (FOSS kits at the middle school level), memorization in lieu of learning a concept, grinding the numbers for Algebra (yes, you have to as there are no short cuts or easier methods), text books instead of actual science labs (wrong and ridiculous) and so forth.  Those who were willing to join the fray of debate became my closest friends; those who were too afraid to join the debate or (literally) had nothing to say became my acqaintances until such time they desired opening their minds and standing up for ideas/experiences they believed in.  Instead of being fearful, I was always exploring new information – the more to choose from the better.

I found the closed mouth, closed minded people willingly drank Kool Aid (with or without sugar) without question  and followed the group think.  It is now all of sudden these self same people which are questioning whether or not U.S. News and World Report should rank teacher preparation programs.   The horror they must be facing is the very fact that some one or group of  ‘ones’ is going to start asking some very challenging questions about their teacher preparation programs (curriculum, experiences, supervision, etc.)

Imagine if you will, a teacher prep program where FOSS kits were donated to the science department, so, that is what was taught…..or some (if not all) text book companies from TX decided to re-do their Algebra text books to ‘align to state standards’ and so that is what was used to ‘develop’ new math teachers.   Imagine where the ‘five paragraph essay’ came from and you should be horrified (it is the absolute minimum standard of writing deemed necessary to graduate high school and in many cases, enter college).   Think about all of those teachers who obtained a graduate degree while serving time in a charter school (where you absolutely must follow group think) and you begin to see why fear is a reality for so many schools of education.

We should ‘know’ what best practices are and they are not the same for every situation and every student. We should know the difference between learning, applying and synthesizing a concept versus memorizing a bit of information to take a multiple choice test with a 25% given success rate upon guessing.  We should know what a good education looks like as we seem to be getting students from foreign countries who have one.  And yet we are afraid to have some one look at our book shelves, peer into our teaching methods, evaluate our ‘sacred’ teacher development practices – on what grounds might some one be afraid if you are RIGHT??

In the last 10 years, I became the ‘go to’ person for friends and friends of friends for various potential questions to ask employers during an interview as I have the audacity to believe it is just as important what a potential employer asks you, as you ask them – you are going to be working together for awhile (hopefully) so get it all out on the table.  I have found over and over by painstaking experience, those people who follow the party line/pitch/game, etc.  at the interview are the self same people who will turn on a dime when led to the new Kool Aid as they are too insecure and/or desperate to have their own thoughts.   It is these people I fear and avoid because they do have something to hide.  Anything right out in the open, up front and to the point is not  hidden.   People who have the ability to discern the difference of right/wrong zero sum games from different/equal benefit and broader scope do not fear people looking in their bookshelves AND are willing to do things to improve for they know they do not have all the answers.

We have all manner of tests for teachers to prove they are highly qualified. We need to start having some methods for demonstrating the higher ed institutions are qualified to prepare teachers.  In fact, there should be a ranking, like the Michelin Stars for restaurants.  This is the result of what happens when you don’t teach people to think – they forget how and become fearful when asked.

As for me, I am going to watch from the sidelines. I did not think ‘From Good to Great’ by Jim Collins, varied state standards, Wendy Kopp and Teach for America, charter schools or Michelle Rhee and Students First was the whole picture.  This new reformation is going to be very interesting indeed.

Memorial Day – Remambrances of All Kinds

There is absolutely no doubt that the price of the freedoms we have in the U.S. were/are not cheap – far too much blood has been shed in this regard. I don’t wait for this once a year memorializing to occur as one day, much like celebrating Hallmark Holidays, is never ever enough. Each day I am thankful for something I have which I know others in most parts of the world lack – indoor plumbing, fresh water piped to the tap in my home, the ability to blog and speak my mind without reprisals in the middle of the night leading to jail or torture or death, the right to a K-12 education, the right to pray to my god(s) and not have to explain my beliefs, the right to question when my government does something ridiculously stupid (and the right to protest) – the list goes on. Each and every day I live a memorial to all the men and women who have given their lives or incurred an injury so I may reach this day.  It is up to me to make this day productive and good and respectful of all I have been given.

While I have never done miliatry service, my father served in Japan for the Vietnam War. I know just enough of what he saw to know I could not survive the military – I am not emotionally geared up for it.  I did serve in the Peace Corps and spent 48 hours in a war zone. The day I saw a news reporter run out with a vest over his flak jacket and the vest was clearly marked with his blood type and nationality, I understood everything I needed to about a war zone. I have heard hand grenades, bombs and have seen the dead.  You don’t need but 48 hours to completely understand war is hell. For me, I had a U.S. Passport and was able to get from Namibia to Botswana.  My exodus barely got 15 seconds on CNN (thankfully my parents did not need to bear witness to anything worse).  I was able to leave but the memories have never left.

I have taught in war zones – Compton, CA, Oakland (62nd and Ashby area), Harlem, NY and subbed in various parts of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland and although I heard gunshots, I was sufficiently startled to take action where it was necessary.

Yesterday I was working for the Census Bureau in Oakland, CA – an area known as the third most difficult place in the U.S. to obtain census data, for a litany of reasons.  Seeing a sub machine gun on a man would have little to no effect on me having been to third world countries and living with that sight every time you leave the village.  It is a normal view of the world which is not the western civilized world.  Apparently gun shots are not something I am familiar enough with that when a drive by occured while I was collecting data, the kids on the street had to tell me to duck.  I thought it was a kid with a pop gun playing around…….I hope I can always say that the sound of gunfire is not something I recognize, that I don’t hear it or know it so often I know to hit the ground.  If for this, and only this, then Memorial Day has provided me with yet another thing to be thankful for – not knowing on a regular basis the sounds of war.

While I do not know the regular sound of gunshots, I only live 5 miles from a place which apparently knows it all to well. For this I do not believe military action is the answer, rather education.  Education in the form of helping people be able to have self efficacy, self direction and a sense of self in a place where fear is most often the emotion.  America still retains the possibility of not exploding into a middle east war, not becoming feuding villages with a bitter hatred of one another for slight differences.  America retains the possibility of being a better model to the world of what works – but first we must make it work here.

While I memorialize, I think of what things in my community need ‘doing’, how I can help and what efforts must come from me so the sound of gunfire is only heard in far, faraway places and only heard when absolutely necessary.  To know the difference is a particularly special reason to be thankful for all those who have laid down their bodies and forever changed the lives of their families and friends to make my and our world better.

http://www.wpr.org/book/bootsontheground/index.html

Isak Dinesen, Farms in Africa, Syringa Trees, Savannah, Forest….

At about the same time most children ran around with blankets and stuffed animals, I became firmly affixed to maps – specifically the magic of the continent Africa. For some reason, the shape and the  colorful, wonderful people, animals and amazing heat provoked great desire in me  to travel there.  As far back as I can remember, I was much more interested in lions on the savannah than cows, horses, etc.  There was something so ‘old soul’ about Africa that I just knew, in my heart, my core of being I had to go there.  The fact that Richard Leaky had found Lucy and Dian Fossey studied gorillas only added to the allure.

It was many years (and many other worldy journeys) before I made it to the continent.  I was involved in the anti-apartheid movement during my undergraduate years. When I finally went to Africa,  I did as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer and I knew I had found my ‘home’ in the world.   I was fortunate enough to live near the Zambezi River in the  northern reaches of Namibia, along the Caprivi Strip. My village was called Katima-Mulilo   in  Ngweze, Namibia, SW Africa.  I saw the part of the world I had written  for Amnesty Interntional about, protested for and cried over.  It was the best and most magical time of my life.  Sadly, before I was able to complete my commitment, there was a civil war and all the Peace Corps Volunteers in my group had to leave.

For the first time in my life I became homesick – not for the U.S., for my village, my Namibian Family  and my way of life.   As if the civil war were not disruptive enough , a little less than a year  and 1/2 later while I was in graduate school at Columbia, 9/11 happened.  Those two events, even each alone, made me question my very existence here on earth.  As the madness of things around me accelerated, where was the meaningfulness?  What had happened to my energy, enthusiasm and joy about going into the Peace Corps and doing GOOD, never mind having a purposefull life?  How could so many people be so hateful – hateful, angry, sad, uninformed and uneducated that killing became a ‘purpose’?

Fortunately for me, I met a young woman who was from Kenya and also in grad school.  We quickly became close friends.  I had so much to learn about the world, especially understanding what is Africa when I had only been there for a little over a year.   My learning continues to this day for I have only books, movies and people to educate me.   Over the years, as my friend completed her two masters degrees and sprinted through her PhD, she knew my deepest dream was to somehow, some way go back to Africa to live.  We always talked about it and she always helped me separate my fictional perceptions from reality.

At about the point when I had almost given up the dream of  getting back to Africa except as a tourist, my friend  from graduate school contacted me.  It was two weeks after being laid off from a  venture funded gig in Silicon Valley so I was free….  She asked if I were busy; Would I like to come to Kenya and visit?  She knew of a school where I might enjoy teaching and helping students and provide professional development to teachers.  To say that I ‘did not even think’ would be far more than what I did.  I believe I did not even blink or exhale and just said yes.

There were 11 days in March which, in retrospect, seem far longer in duration  (in the best possible way) as I felt at home, not a tourist, not an interloper on holiday-I fell into the daily rhythm with ease.   Nairobi reminded me a bit of Jo’burg, yet Nairobi is more cosmoplitan.    I believe my mind was made up long before I landed at Kenyatta International – everything after just confirmed my beliefs.  It was the heat, the people, the friendliness, the harshness of a land with little water and few resources yet so loving and full of goodness.

I visited the girls school in Eldoret, which is situated near a protected forest.  I met the teachers, principal, students. I was able to teach – and the girls did far better on the lessons than their American counterparts who often struggle with a concept called “Is it full?” about matter.   There was farmland and cattle. 

There were students who wanted to LEARN!  This was what was most encouraging. 

 In January 2003, the Government of Kenya announced the introduction of free primary education. As a result, primary school enrolment increased by about 70%. However, secondary and tertiary education enrollment has not increased proportionally because payment is still required for attendance.  Quoted from Wikipedia

Here were female students who desired to study, learn, ask questions and put in the effort to elevate themselves.  They understood the value of an education.  Here were teachers who wanted to work hard and do more to improve their craft.  Here was a quiet space for contemplation and yet it was a large learning community.  The students were friendly, polite, sincere and thoughtful. The teachers were engaged, felt strongly about their curriculum and believed wholeheartedly in the power of an education.

I had found ‘home’ again. This was the place I could love unendingly and fill myself  of purpose and grow and learn and should I get old, do it knowing full well I had lived a full life committed to somthing larger than myself. 

Perhaps the saddest part has been that coming home to California after being in Kenya, I became disenfranchised from the very education  system that gave me my credential.  I have subbed in many schools as I needed an “in between job” until I moved and only about 40% of the schools are functional – the rest make me wonder how they call themselves schools and can collect ADA.  Of the functional schools, I am now subbing in classes where teachers are either so burned out they don’t really care (I have been there  and empathize fully) or they are moving on and just want to finish out the end of the year but need to take vacation time since it is not ‘portable’.   I have watched the unending fight (years of it – long since Proposition 13 passed) about the budget and teachers being kicked to the curb like yesterdays trash.   My teacher colleagues (over 20 years worth) from all over the country don’t even have the abiity to cry anymore;  No one believes any longer (none of us did in the first place) that test scores were the only answer to success. 

I picked up a book by Judy Estrin called Closing the Innovation Gap.  As I am reading it, my goal is to help inspire innovation in Kenya – to offer help to  them so they can  be a Silicon Savannah; I no longer believe there  is a way to make public education in America work, most especially California.  Innovation at this juncture is not possible  –  we have set the focus too narrow and not well thought out – test scores! 

At times I feel as if apartheid or a Tokoloshe left South Africa to come home to America and it is being well liked by far too many.  I have watched charter schools do wonderful statistical manipulations with test scores – I have yet to see anything indicating these test scores translate to college graduation.  

Updated 5/22/09  http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/05/22/BAR617PKQK.DTL&tsp=1

It is my hope that the U.S. learn something from other countries so recent to the idea of free public education.  It is my hope that I will be able to bring back many valuable ideas from Kenya to help America innovate its educational progam.

Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen

  • ISBN-10: 0679600213
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679600213
  • The Art of Recycling in Kenya by Annelise Della Rosa

  • ISBN-10: 8881586975
  • ISBN-13: 978-8881586974
  •  The Syringa Tree by Pamela Gien

  • ISBN-10: 0375759107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375759109
  • Closing The Innovation Gap

  • ISBN-10: 0071499873
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071499873