Thursday, November 18, 2010

Patience? REALLY?

You know, as I wrote here last week, I'm trying hard to resist jumping on the anti-Cathie Black bandwagon. As of my last writing on the subject, I knew almost nothing about the woman and was loath to judge her too harshly, or indeed at all, before I had any actions or statements beyond the usual generics on which to judge.

But one thing that made me go, a la Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers on Saturday Night Live, "REALLY?" was Ms. Black's plea for "patience" as she gets up to speed on, uh, schools, I guess. So much so that I'm going to have a word with Ms. Black here, personally.

REALLY, Ms. Black? You're a sexagenarian business mogul and best-selling author whose management experience is so vaunted and legendary that you're being asked, despite no experience with schools, to manage the largest school system in the country? And you need "patience"? REALLY? Joshua Greenman of the Daily News pointed out the absurdity of this request already, but I still can't get over it.

You know, I started teaching in the city schools when I was 23 and my first posting was deep in the heart of a restructuring high school with some very tough (lovable, yes, eventually, but tough!) children. And there was no patience for Miss Eyre. I mean, don't cry for me; clearly I survived and I think I would say that today I am thriving. But it's taken me my probationary years and then some to get to the point where I can fairly and accurately call myself a good and thriving teacher. Yet I can't say anyone was especially patient with me. Those kids were my responsibility from Day One, lack of experience (of any kind) be damned. That's how it is in education.

So, REALLY?, Ms. Black? Are you ready to give teachers the kind of patience and understanding for which you plead right now? Because, if you are, then maybe I can cut you the same slack. But if not, you can guess my response.

(If you're unfamiliar with Seth and Amy doing their "REALLY?" bit, here's a clip.)
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