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Study This!

I had no idea that Connecticut’s urban public school systems rank dead last in the country. The state’s performance is masked due to the many excellent schools in our mostly white suburban towns.

I may have the opportunity to help an educational reform group and so I’m doing research to get up to speed. There are many common misconceptions. Perhaps the worst of the lot: kids from bad neighborhoods can’t be expected to learn the way kids in towns like Westport do because their home life is messed up.

A variation of this myth: Teachers can’t be expected to deliver results when kids don’t get support at home.

Several Charter Schools in the inner city are proving both of these views wrong.

I visited one in Bridgeport and witnessed a remarkable environment for learning. Recent test scores outperformed neighboring Fairfield.

Contrary to what some believe, Charter schools do not skim the cream of a bad neighborhood, a lottery system determines students. These high performing urban kids face the same family and economic challenges that their public school counterparts do—the performance difference is due to the system, the teachers, the culture.

Another common misconception: Charter Schools are for-profit organizations. In Connecticut, … Read the rest


Trash talking does nobody any good this election

The day after the Arab protests and attacks at the US Embassies I overheard several guys in the locker room at my gym complaining about Obama’s weak response to the attacks.

“Those Arabs only listen to strength; you can’t apologize, talk or reason with them, they only respond to might.”

I know better than to talk politics or religion in such settings, but it was difficult to hold my tongue, these guys were spewing emotional feelings based on spurious facts.

Each day since the attacks we have learned new information about them. This is one reason why in election years, it’s considered bad form for candidates to publicly question a president’s response—rarely are all the facts available to the public.

But that hadn’t stopped Romney from commenting, or these guys in the locker room.

I couldn’t hold myself back. “Obama has been much more hawkish than many of his supporters wanted,” I said. “His foreign policy is so strong, Republicans didn’t even mention the war at their convention.”

One of the guys shook his head dismissively. “Obama wouldn’t even have gotten elected if he wasn’t a black man.”

The other guys said, “He’s not that smart.”

Then his buddy added, … Read the rest


First Year Little League Coaches are Saints

 

 

Inspired by the incredible play of those kids in the Little League World Series, I was reminded of earlier this year watching my girl friend’s eight year old play ball for the first time. I wrote this piece for the Good Men Project. Here’s the link:

http://goodmenproject.com/families/the-good-life-every-kid-a-winner/Read the rest


Review This!

Sunday’s New York Time’s article about the company that produced fake reviews of books highlighted the importance of 5-star Amazon reviews. If you have a lot of positive ones it attracts people and generates excitement.

I don’t have a problem asking people to read the book and review it, but to hire a company to create fake reviews doesn’t make sense because when the book fails to live up to this false praise, the hype fizzles.

But it’s not surprising that authors and companies fake reviews to hype their crap.

What is surprising is that so many people rely on these reviews.

‘Average Joe’ reviews in conjunction with independent, credible commentary can be effective, but sadly, the general public isn’t that discerning.

Pushing the boundaries of reviews is not new. Look at those full page movie ads that run in daily newspapers. They’ll take a single phrase or word (out of context) to sell the movie. “Exhilarating” could be the only positive word in an otherwise awful review, but it will be in huge type as a headline.

The challenge for the indie release is getting anyone of credibility to pay attention. Given the amount of self-published garbage now being … Read the rest