History classes in New York State public high schools may become an endangered species. The Board of Regents thinks it’s just peachy to suggest that many students should be able to graduate by passing just one of the two History exams (Global History and Geography, and United State History and Government). And not only that, but Chancellor Regent Merryl Tisch is suggesting that students only need to be tested in Global History on events after the year 1750. Hmm, how’d they arrive at this year and not, say 1492, or 1066…or the year 1?

Is this supposed to get students ready for college-level work? Do the knuckle-headed Regents think they are doing anyone any favors by disparaging and expunging history topics? Did history just go “poof” and find itself created in 1750? Students will be even more ignorant, social studies teachers (as well as teachers in other subject areas such as Language Arts and Science) will find their work even more difficult, and no, this will NOT help our kids be smarter and more effective. Admit it, our students will be ever more clueless about the workings of society, and critical thinking skills (which you know the educrats like to jabber on about) will suffer. And when critical thinking skills suffer, society really does suffer in general.

Do Chancellor Tisch and her merry band of Regents really believe that most kids hate history and find it a burden to learn? Has she any awareness of all those popular Young Adult book title and series that integrate history (even if in subtle ways) into their texts? Do they know that there are plenty of teens and tweens who do like to watch History Channel? Maybe Tisch and her ignorant pencil-pushers just didn’t like history when they were kids, is that it?

Ms. Tisch and Co., as a veteran teacher, a long-ago student, and a current parent of two kids who do kinda like their history classes, I beseech you: don’t gut the history curriculum. Try to imagine that the current crop of students does deserve to learn history. And try to imagine that society would like them to learn it, as well.

A public high school in Brooklyn, NYC

A public high school in Brooklyn, NYC






People want to catch the perfect moment with their cameras, their camera-phones, their portable technology. Sometimes they try so hard and don’t catch it, give up, feel frustrated, and don’t get to enjoy the moment. Just look carefully. Stop trying so hard.

I looked at the turtle and took a few shots and didn’t even realize that I had snapped this. Am I saying that you should always stroll through life in such a casual fashion? No, but loosen up and maybe you will take a really nice photograph.And have a better time, a more enjoyable experience.

Sometimes I feel this way about other parts of life. Work: you get caught up and annoyed at various aspects of your job. I know I do. I have to tell myself, enjoy what you can. Especially in my field, which can be full of aggravation and nasty, controlling people and way too many soul-crushing details and sets of paperwork. I have to remind myself (and my colleagues who are willing to listen) that you have to find something that you like about work…or you will be so damned miserable. Not optimum.Image

September is here and so many things start, all over again. School, the Jewish New Year, the football season, the Broadway theater season… I have been thinking about how I can change-up my routines and really make this a new and better year, season, whatever. How can I, or you, or anyone else, try to make positive changes in our own lives and thus in society as a whole? Hopefully this is a life-long process and one that should be done conscientiously. I will reflect on small (and large) ways to make life better and also look at the effects. As well, how does someone deal with the mistakes and foolish things that we cannot shake, or seemingly can’t stop? How can you get rid of bad habits and install better ones in their places? And opinions can differ on the changes and the analysis.

I guess almost all of us would see donating blood as a good thing, right? I did that recently (a few weeks ago, in August). But what are some actions that I might do, and think are good, that someone else would think are stupid, or foolish, or just plain wrong? What are the effects? Does everyone have a different agenda? It’s easy to be mired by indecision. And will many people scoff at the title “do-gooder”? Will that make my quest even harder because someone is disparaging what I do?



It’s hard to leave footprints, even if you wanted to…

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