Failing the Test

 Teaching to the Test

The new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) concentrate on a clear set of skills and concepts that students will learn in a more organized way. However, there is confusion and concerns from parents and teachers about how course content is taught and if the students are learning. During my ten years as a reading and writing Supplemental Instructor for college level courses, and an ELA Instructor for grades K-12, I have witnessed serval changes in the New York City Public schools curriculum. Due to decreasing test scores teachers are scrambling to adjust to yet another assigned way to teach to the test.  However, aside from the common core, there are other factors that contribute to black and Latino children failing standardized tests and not obtaining the appropriate skills thus leading them to become under achievers academically.

Obstacle #1: The learning Environment has Changed

Today’s children are in classrooms that lack space for intellectual growth and creativity. As a result, children are restless and bored by the daily grind and drilling of teaching to the test. In addition, teachers are no longer allowed to use their knowledge, skills and talents to make learning engaging. Instead, they are chained to the demands of a curriculum required by the Board of Education. In order for learning to take place, children need to feel comfortable in the classroom. Therefore, allowing the process of taking in course content pleasurable and interesting.

Hindrance #2: Home Life

Learning is impede at home for some children because there is no encouragement to use their reading, writing and math skills. Instead, what is encouraged is marathon hours of watching meaningless television shows and playing video games nonstop. The majority of parents mind set is that learning should take place in the class room because teachers are paid to educate children. Secondly, working parents are exhausted, it is easy to use the television to contain their children’s behavior by sitting them in front of the television having their brains drained and corrupted by the Disney channel or worse reality TV. The world children live in today is far removed from the days when the father was the sole bread winner and mom stayed home and help with homework.  Furthermore, in an effort to take even less responsibly for their children’s education parents are stretching their budgets to pay tutors to pick up the slack. There is nothing wrong with using tutoring services for academic support, however, it’s not a good use of resource if the parents are only hoping for a quick fix.

Barrier #3: Children’s attitude towards Learning

This generation of scholars’ define the process of education as being a nuisance, difficult and too much work.  During tutoring sessions   I often hear children questioning their parents, teachers and tutors as to “why they have to learn this stuff” and “how this stuff is going to help them?” I’ve witnessed kids having melt downs and crying spells because they detest learning. This attitude is not entirely their fault. How can we expect them to be motivated and excited about learning when the majority of children in African American/Latino homes do not observe their parents engaging in reading or writing? It is said that home should be the first place where children get inspired.

The final insult, the practice of social promotion moving students to the next grade regardless of whether they learned the necessary material, in order to keep them with their peers. This is also referred to as social grouping. The harm caused to the students caught in this game of move them along, further damages their academic achievement.  First, they have not mastered the material in the previous grade. Second, the embarrassment to their egos and self-esteem   when they realize their peers are ahead of them and that they lack the ability to catch up.

Now that you have heard my side of the story, WHAT SAY YOU?

The Clinton/Lewinsky Affair



Flashback Friday


Hey America you’re looking at the wrong dress. Remember that famous blue dress and this statement made by Bill Clinton “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” well, Bill the blue dress gave you away.

Sixteen years ago, I was working as a free-lance writer for Street News, a newspaper sold by homeless people in New York City. Street News aimed to create self-sufficiency for homeless and unemployed people. My Editor Indio Washington called me up one night and asked me to weigh in on the hottest topic since the invention of sliced bread, “The Clinton Intern Affair.”

Now she has a memoir entitled Monica’s Story. It’s rumored that she received $12 million. It’s ironic that the title of my article sixteen years ago describes her net worth today.


She Works Hard For the Money


 Street News 1999


The name Monica Lewinsky has left a bitter taste in my mouth. Since the beginning of this whole zipper gate scandal between “that woman” and Bill Clinton, I haven’t spent one second feeling sorry for her nor do I feel that she’s been given a bad rap. Monica is nothing more than a publicity hound. She got popular the cheap way and succeeded in belittling herself. She’s the Jessica Hahn of the 90s and continues without shame to parade herself in front of the media as an innocent woman scorned. The real deal is that she enjoyed being the other woman. The results of her past affairs has always ended in someone else’s pain.

This time it was an entire nation that’s suffering for her trampy ways. We were laughed at. And, she declared that she didn’t realize what she was doing. Yeah, Right! Monica “blew the wrong dude at the wrong time and told the wrong people.

Or did she?

All Ms. Lady Cares about now is trying to gain sympathy and dollars from her book sales… And she is trying to redeem herself by continuing to appear in the media and air more of her so-called “tragic” life.

Somebody of sane mind should tell her that confession is not always good for the soul.

I hope that every young woman in America will take a good look at the damage Monica has done to her life. And if they’re thinking of taking the same high road to fame, they should take a minute to contemplate the price that comes with fifteen minutes of fame.

Monica Lewinsky will not go down in history as the woman who almost brought down a Presidency, but as the woman who went down on him.

She confused cheap sexual thrills with love.

Love had nothing to do with what she was doing. If all she wanted was a job, I’m sure that there are employment agencies in D.C. that could have suited her needs. I know that we haven’t seen or heard the last of Monica. I’m sure with her new book there will be Monica the Movie, Monica the B’way play, Monica the television series and a talk show since she has so much to talk about.

Well, Congratulations Monica, you have made it to the big times! I hope she is happy with her new celebrity status. She is now the most famous woman in America. And, just think all it took for her to get there was to wear a blue dress and sit on the President’s lap and “blow “a tune. You go girl, hooray for Hollywood.