We just had our Labor Day tradition: Mrs. Jazzman's ribs, my baked beans, Jazzboys heating up the sauce, the Dutch neighbors and their very good wine...
We may have the looming conflict with Syria and the continuing assault on unions and all the other ills of the world casting a shadow on our fall. But there are family and friends and the small, simple pleasures of life to help us steel ourselves. There's 60-something Diana Nyad completing an impossible physical task. There's the professionalism and generosity of spirit in Philadelphia's teachers. There's the astonishing bravery -- both on the battlefield and at home -- of our best and brightest like Ty Carter.
If we have all that, and we remember that we have each other, we'll get by. We'll make it better. We always do.
I always throttle back the blog a bit in early Spetember to accommodate my job; this year will be no different. But I won't be slowing down too much, because we have so much to deal with over these next few months:
- The new teacher evaluation systems and tests that are coming to NJ and the rest of the country. What happened in New York was only the beginning of what will undoubtedly be an epidemic of nationwide madness. Operation Hindenburg, our local version, will be an especially disheartening disaster, as it is completely preventable. But we need to lay out the facts and we need to challenge our "betters" so that when this finally does explode in their faces, we'll be able to pick ourselves up and set things right.
- The release of Diane Ravitch's Reign of Error. I was honored to receive an advance copy, and it's really, really good. Go ahead put in your early order now: it may very well change the entire framework for this nation's discussion of education.
- Things are blowing up in cities all over the country: not only Chicago, but Philly, Boston, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and many other places. Who will have the guts and the smarts to emerge as the next Karen Lewis and lead their local teachers union in a fight to save public education?
- The charter cheerleaders are running out of excuses; how will they react when the truth has finally caught up with them?
- In light of their spectacular failures this past year, we need to watch Jeb! Bush's "Chiefs For Change" very carefully.
- Locally, we'll be watching Paymon Rouhanifard's rule over the Camden schools, the Newark merit pay scheme, the fights for equity and teacher bargaining rights in Paterson and Jersey City, the struggles of parents and students against institutional reforminess in Montclair, the ongoing soap opera that is Perth Amboy, and the wave of "reforms" coming from Trenton that is going to catch the 'burbs by surprise (I've been warning you...).
And so much more. It's been my pleasure to opine about these topics, and it's been my honor to have you as readers. Many, many thanks to those of you who email or retweet or "like" or post a comment. You've made this very gratifying for me; I'll do all I can to continue to make this edifying and maybe even occasionally entertaining for you.
This has become a yearly tradition: take it away, Francis...
The Merit Pay Fairy says: "Sorry kids, not even 'dis fairy can't make da summer no longer..."