Friday, October 29, 2010

CCAA Scavenger Hunt: Let the Photos Begin...

This trip was hoppin'.  That's slang for "good," right?  Anyway, here's a grasshopper on the railing at the Dyckman Farmhouse.  Credit: Kei, 802

City on a hill: From the corner of 139th and Edgecombe, here's Shepard Hall, the iconic building at The City College of New York.  Credit: Kei, 802

The site of the Black Horse Inn...yes, you found it!  Credit: Carlos, 801

Who went and played bingo after the scavenger hunt on Thursday night?  I hear Carlos got there at 6:30 to get a good seat.  Credit: Carlos, 801

The Inwood Hill Park baseball field: site of many races on Thursday morning...and a couple of slips and falls.  Sorry about your jeans, Luiggi, Adrianna, and Alex.  Credit: Carlos, 801

Near perfect shot of the downtown 1 train crossing the Broadway Bridge into Manhattan.  Beautiful stuff, Carlos.  Credit: Carlos, 801

At this store, your pumpkins come pre-carved.  Credit: Carlos, 801

Yeah, that's us.  Credit: Carlos, 801

In 1958, Martin Luther King Jr. visited this building, once a department store called Blumstein’s, during a tour of Harlem.  Inside, he was stabbed by an insane woman and had to be sent to Harlem Hospital for life-saving surgery.  He went on to live ten more years, giving his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963.  Credit: Carlos, 801

Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., represented Harlem in Congress from 1945 to 1971.  He was the first person of African-American descent elected to Congress from New York.  He was also the pastor of the famous Abyssinian Baptist Church.  Credit: Carlos, 801

Harlem murals teach a lesson.  Credit: Carlos, 801

Strivers' Row: the fanciest, most famous residential block in Harlem.  At an angle.  Credit: Carlos, 801

From the right angle, a house on 204th Street looks like it's out in the countryside. 

The Abyssinian Baptist Church tower points towards Heaven, just like the architects planned it.  Best photo of the day.  Much credit to the photographer for Jose's and Rosanna's team.

Inwood's Henry Hudson Bridge.  One beautiful bridge that we can call our own.

Strivers' Row: that alley used to serve another purpose, it seems.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Four months until spring training

Where were you on Friday night when the Yankees' season came to an end?  I was watching the game at home, but there's no way to hide and mourn in silence when you've got Facebook.  In came the comments: a friend from San Francisco said he was disappointed that there wouldn't be a Yankees-Giants World Series, a teacher from my old school who's a Red Sox fan declared, "Texas goes hard," and--within a minute of the final strikeout--Pamela (the teacher, not the student) posted this on my wall: "Wooooooo!!!!!"  My response: "Thanks for thinking of me, Pamela."

So it goes.  Only one team wins the World Series each year and, this year, Texas deserves it more than the Yankees do.  It's painful to say, but it's true.  They were out-hit, out-pitched, and out-managed--even in the games they won.  If you read the newspapers, you know the critics are already piling on.  They say A-Rod doesn't get the big hits, Phil Hughes isn't tough enough for the postseason, Joe Girardi makes big managing mistakes in big situations.  

Yes, the critics are sometimes right.  But put the criticism on pause for a minute and remember this: we just witnessed another amazing season from the greatest baseball team in history.  That team--the New York Yankees--plays its home games only a couple miles from where we live and go to school.  Just this year, the Yankees received their 2009 World Series rings in April, Mark Teixeira hit three homers in a game in May, Andy Pettitte won his 200th game in June, Brett Gardner hit an inside-the-park home run in July, A-Rod got his 600th homer in August, and, in September, the Yankees earned a playoff spot for the 15th time in 16 years.  October didn't end with a Yankee victory in the World Series, and, in George Steinbrenner's judgment, that means that the Yankees' season was a failure.

I wouldn't dare to argue with the late Boss, but I still had a great time watching the Yankees this year.  From the games I saw in Florida when I went to spring training, to my visits to Yankee Stadium, to the days I was out of state or out of the country and had to buy a newspaper or get to an Internet cafe to find out the score, to all those hours I spent reading Yankees blogs and listening to the games on the radio or watching them on TV--I loved it.  I love baseball season.

And honestly, I think I most love baseball because it allows very different people to connect with each other.  I've struck up conversations with total strangers in the train over baseball.  Whenever I talk to my dad on the phone, we inevitably get to talking about the Yankees.  When I see 801 in the morning for advisory, there's always somebody who brings up the previous night's game.  I've made great friends and had made weaker friendships stronger with baseball.  Thank God for the Yankees.

Now, to all of you who think I'm just trying to make myself feel better because my team lost--well, the Mets and the Red Sox are garbage, and you don't see the Phillies in the World Series either, do you?  So there.  :-)

Any favorite memories, thoughts, or comments at the end of the Yankees' season?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The movie "Glory" is available online!

An illustration of the 54th Massachusetts, including Sergeant Carney, who's famous for grabbing the U.S. flag and saying, "Boys, the old flag never touched the ground!"
Colonel Shaw as played by Matthew Broderick, joined by Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman
Thank goodness for Julianna's idea this afternoon!  We don't have time to watch the whole movie in class, but during my period with 803 (which was awesome today, by the way), Julianna suggested that I post the movie online.  As it turns out, the entire movie is available online for free!  This is an excellent film that won three Oscars when it was released in 1989.  Through this link, you can watch Glory on Hulu.  The movie trailier is available here.  If you want more background information on Glory, try this Wikipedia article.

Looking for more information on the 54th Massachusetts Regiment?  This website has terrible grammar but has great illustrations.

Alannah asked this question today, and I didn't know the answer: "Did slaves wear glasses or did they just go around half-blind?"  Anybody want to do the research and get back to us?  If you write a full paragraph in your own words in answer to the question, you'll get extra credit.

The future Capt. and Mrs. Kennedy!

Did you hear?  Captain Kennedy is getting married!  On Saturday, he hiked to the top of a mountain with his girlfriend, he asked her to marry him, and she said yes!

Jeff and Laura met in 2009, before Jeff went to Iraq for the second time.  While he was in Iraq, they kept in touch everyday by video chat.  That's the story behind the sort-of-goofy-but-mostly-awesome photograph above--it's a screen capture from one of their video chats.  Jeff was in his army uniform in Iraq, Laura was in Georgia, and yet they were able to keep their relationship going.  Laura's a great, friendly lady and a very smart, well-qualified pharmacist too--she graduated from Auburn University in Alabama with a pharmacy degree in May and she now works at a hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.

They're getting married next July.  Jennifer of 802 asked if you all are invited to the wedding.  Um, well...if you can find a way to get to the South (the wedding's in North Carolina or Georgia), Jeff and Laura probably won't turn you away from the church service.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

More Cultural Conflict with Muslims

I guess none of us have the time to watch "The View" (a weekday morning talk show) but I read about something interesting and surprising that happened on the show today.  Bill O'Reilly, who you might know is a talk show host on Fox News, visited "The View."
During a discussion about Park51, a Muslim community center and mosque that is to be built two blocks from ground zero in Manhattan, Mr. O’Reilly said the project was “inappropriate” because “a lot of the 9/11 families, who I know, say, ‘Look, we don’t want that, that shouldn’t be there.’”
Mr. O’Reilly cited an opinion poll in which he said 70 percent of respondents did not want the project to go forward, and Ms. Goldberg and Ms. Behar continued to press him on why he felt it should not be built. Mr. O’Reilly replied, “Because Muslims killed us on 9/11.”
At that point, hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar walked off the set because they were so angry and offended.  Here's the story and the video.

There's another post coming later tonight...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Terrorized for Being a Muslim"

News from our city:
They called him a "terrorist," relentlessly taunted him and beat him so hard that he bled -- all because he was a Muslim.
But this nightmare didn't unfold in some seamy torture chamber in a far-off place -- it happened in the hallways of a Staten Island middle school.
Read the whole story here and please comment thoughtfully and appropriately.

If so many people have the same opinion, does that make it right?

Lots of people hold each of the following opinions:
  • Christopher Columbus was a murderer and a bigot.
  • Abraham Lincoln was a hero and a savior of our country.
There are many other figures in American history that are viewed in similar ways.  There are lots of people in history that everybody seems to love and there are lots of people that everybody seems to hate.

How do we deal with that?  Should we go along with the prevailing opinion?  Should we oppose it for the sake of opposing it?  How should we think about people and their historical contributions?

Monday, October 11, 2010

This Week: Columbus and Lincoln

What's coming this week?

Seventh graders: Who is Columbus?  Was he a great leader?  Did he use his power in the right ways?  What were the effects of his journey on Native Americans, America, and the world?  You've gotten a start on this with your homework.

But there's a certain view of Columbus that's especially popular these days.  Here's what some of my friends shared about Columbus on Facebook today:
"maybe we all just need to celebrate Christopher Columbus thinking that the people living on this continent were Indians. That sounds great. Let's do that. gooooooood night"
"Today we celebrate a racist, ruthless murderer and genocidal imperialist! #Cheers!"
"To paraphrase Public Enemy, "Columbus is a hero to most but he never meant (much) to me. (Forget) him and Cortez."
YouTube: Reconsider Columbus Day

Columbus Day e-card

What do you think, seventh graders?  Let's see what we think of Columbus after studying him this week.  Tomorrow: we read Columbus' diary from October 12, 1492.

Eighth graders, we'll be looking at a far more beloved historical figure.  Here's the man:

And here's the plan: we'll learn briefly about Lincoln's early life, then try to put ourselves in his shoes.  Imagine you were president: What would you do if half of the country decided to break away?  What if Union soldiers were trapped inside a fort in South Carolina, surrounded by Confederates?  What would you do?

If you want to start thinking about Lincoln, try watching this PBS film, which is completely available online.  "Looking for Lincoln" is narrated by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the highly respected historian who I might have pointed out when we watched "America: The Story of Us" last week.

It's been too long, guys.  Can't wait to see you tomorrow!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Guest Blog from Captain Kennedy: "Keep it real!"

Have any of you been to the South?  By "the South," I mean states in the Southern United States, like Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, or other states in that area.  Life is different here than in New York City.  People do speak more slowly and they have Southern accents, but, no, everybody doesn't talk like Forrest Gump.  Down here, there's also a beautiful thing called Waffle House.  It's kind of like IHOP or Denny's, but you can only find a Waffle House in the South.  They serve cheese-n-eggs, grits, and hash browns smothered with cheese and onions and jalapenos and chili and gravy...and, yes, I've eaten all of that and more during my last two breakfasts.  So, here's a photo of our visit to Waffle House this morning.  On the left is Captain Kennedy beside his girlfriend Laura.  On my right is Seamus, and Brendan is the guy with his eyes closed.

As promised, here's the second half of Captain Kennedy's message to you.  But first, here's Danny's blog post, to which Captain Kennedy replies:

i wanted to know if Jeff Kinney is offended by the Military games such as Call of Duty. i want to know because teens are not understanding that Call of Duty is not only in video games it in real life. in the game people are happy when they kills and some people in the war are full of guilt and regret when killing. another question is which one does he think is better? The Army, USMC (United States Marine Corps), Navy Seals, or the United States Army Rangers? What gun does he use? I'am asking because i hear The Army uses The M16 Carbine, and a 9mm pistol. What lead Captain Kennedy to make the decision to join The Army? Also what does it take to become a Ghille Sniper? Snipers are like ninjas to The Army they are personally my favorites (sorry Captain Kennedy) its that the Cheytec M200, the Barret 50 cal; and the M107. i love the way they protect the men on battle field and they can get away with a suppressed gun shot to the head. Sorry for all of the questions its that i am curious of the war. Hope you can Visit our school!

And now, the words of Captain Kennedy:

Danny, you had some pretty specific questions about all of the equipment we’re using in our most recent deployment and I’ll do my best to fill you in.  Our snipers typically use the M107’s, but also can carry the Barret .50 cal; we used snipers a lot back in my last deployment during OIF V but have reduced lethal operations recently and did not use them in OIF VII.  To become a sniper you have to enlist in the Army as an infantryman or scout, qualify expert on all basic weapons (M4/M16, M9, M249, and M240), and the unit that you get assigned to will send you to sniper school and they teach marksmanship, stalking, and camouflage.  The average soldier will carry the M4 carbine as his only weapon; certain soldiers will also carry the M9 pistol.  The squad automatic rifleman will carry the M249 SAW, and two gunners in each platoon will carry the M240B.  In my last deployment, I was a Sapper platoon leader in a mechanized infantry unit, so I carried a M4 and M9, my vehicle had a M240C and the M242 Bushmaster.  I hope that was all the info you were looking for, let me know what else you would like to know. 

Thanks everyone for your kind words and support.  It means a lot to have you all behind me while I’m overseas.  I hope you all are doing well and working hard in school.  Developing the attention to detail, teamwork, and leadership abilities which have been critical to my success started with hard work in the classroom with Mr. Toomajian.  Let me know if you all have any more questions, and keep it real!

Jeff Kennedy
TF 2-69 AR

Any more messages you want to send to Captain Kennedy?  He's sitting here in the living room with us, so now would be a good time to ask.  Enjoy Columbus Day and come back for another post tomorrow!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Guest Blog: Captain Jeffrey Kennedy

Hello from Georgia, everybody!  Hope you're having a great Columbus Day weekend.  Hope that test went well, even if I wasn't around yesterday afternoon.  I've had an awesome time here with Captain Kennedy, his girlfriend Laura, and two good friends from elementary school--Brendan and Seamus.  Almost as soon as we got to his house on Friday, Captain Kennedy sat down and wrote you a message.  I'll post it in two parts, especially since the message mainly replies to two messages, sent by Jennifer and Danny of 802.  So, first I'll post Jennifer's e-mail, then the first half of Captain Kennedy's message.

Dear Captain Jeffrey Kennedy,
We are very excited for your return! You have done so much for our country and I wish you the best of luck in your work. I would like to thank you for everything that you have done in order to protect the United States of America. There are many questions that I would like for you to answer. I would like to know if you sometimes you feel scared for what you are going to do. When someone asks you to do something do you think of any positive and negative effects that might happen? How do you feel when you have just survived an explosion?
Mr. Toomajian has told us so much about you. We all know that you are very good friends with him. I am very sorry for the friends that you have lost in Iraq. Once again I would like you to know that I am very thankful for all the things that you have done. We can’t wait to see you come back. One more question: do you believe that it is okay to be in war against another place and let people die in the war? Can you please come and visit us in school one day? We really want to meet you.
And now Captain Kennedy's message...

Mr. T’s History Students,

Thanks for all of your questions.  I’m sorry I haven’t responded to your questions earlier, but it has been a time-consuming operation to get from Babil, Iraq back to Fort Benning, Georgia.  Now that I’m back on U.S. soil, I’m excited to finally get to answer you all!

Jennifer, you asked a lot about what it’s like over there, and I can definitely tell you all about that.  Do we sometimes feel scared? Absolutely…there have been many times when I wasn’t sure what was going to happen.  I spent my first deployment leading a platoon through the hotspots looking for roadside bombs, and we saw a lot of combat, which is always a nerve-rattling experience.  During this past deployment, insurgents shot at our base with rockets and other explosives, and although it wasn’t as intense as it was two years ago, it is still frightening.  Whenever I get a mission, as a leader, it is my job to create the plan to accomplish that mission.  As I plan an operation, I always consider the effects of my actions and I consider the enemies.  The planning criteria we use are: action (what I’m doing), reaction (what the enemy will do in response), and counteraction (what I will do to confront the enemy’s response).  How do I feel after an explosion?  Blessed to be alive!  Usually you can’t see after an explosion because of the dust and smoke, and as that clears you do your best to make sure you’re still in one piece and make sure all of your men are all right.  Depending on what type of explosion it was, how close it was, and how it hit the vehicle, people usually have headaches afterwards and I now have some permanent hearing loss in my left ear and it is constantly ringing.  But after surviving such a violent ordeal, I’m not upset, just grateful to survive...not all of my soldiers and friends have been so lucky... 

More to come tomorrow.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Preparing for Tomorrow's 8th Grade Test

First of all, I love October baseball.  I love baseball in October.  I love October for its baseball.  Love it.

Okay, guys, I just realized that I'd forgotten to post the model quote analysis paragraphs.  I'll put them up now, but I apologize for not getting it to you sooner.  I hope you've been able to use many other resources--including your classmates--to help you prepare for the test.

Remember, on the test, you'll see something like this:
Choose two of the three following quotes.  Analyze each of the quotes you choose in a good paragraph.  In your analysis, you must do the following: 
  • Identify the speaker or writer of the quote. 
  • Identify the source of the quote (e.g. “speech in Washington in 1963,” “book called Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” etc.) 
  • Paraphrase the quote—put it into your own words.Explain why the quote is historically important and significant
  • Include any historical detail that is necessary in order to understand the quote.
Here are the three quotes:
1. “[It is] a work more stupendous, more magnificent, and more beneficial than has hitherto been achieved by the human race.”
2. “Reading books on factory time was against the rules. But we hid books in apron pockets and wastebaskets. Often we tore books apart and read them a page at a time. Sometimes we pasted poems to the windows or on our looms to memorize.”
3. “I…am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.”

None of the classes analyzed the first quote, so I've given it a try tonight:
In a report to the New York State Legislature, Governor DeWitt Clinton wrote these words about the Erie Canal.  He claimed that the work of constructing the Erie Canal was the best and most incredible project in the history of humanity.  He was exaggerating, but he was right to say that the Erie Canal was an important project.  The Erie Canal created a route for ships to travel between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes via the Hudson River.  Goods could be easily shipped between the Western United States and the Atlantic Ocean.  Because so many valuable goods passed through New York, the state and the city became extremely rich.  The Erie Canal led New York to become a wealthy state.

Here is Arlenys's and 801's analysis of the second quote:
The person said the second quote was Harriet Robinson, who was a ten-year-old girl when she worked with a power loom.  The quote is from her book published in 1898.  They would do anything to read books in the factory.  They were willing to get in trouble and not follow the rules.  This quote is historically important because Harriet was just a ten-year-old girl working as a Lowell Mill Girl.  It is significant because they were willing to do anything.  This happened in Massachusetts after the creation of the cotton gin.  Because they read, they decided to go on strike and they managed to keep their wages from dropping.  Their organizing eventually led to women demanding—and winning—the right to vote.

Here is Caitly's and 804's analysis of the second quote:
Harriet Robinson was a child laborer in a Lowell textile mill.  This quote was taken from her book published in 1898.  She said that reading materials during factory time was not allowed but that she hid them in pockets and baskets.  She sometimes pasted poems on windows and machines.  This is important because laborers weren’t supposed to know how to read and write because then they would know the Constitution and/or other important documents.  Back then, women were not treated equally.  Once they learned their rights, they protested and went on a successful strike.

Here is Jorge's and 802's analysis of the third quote:
Quote 3, written by John Brown in a note on December 2, 1859, means the crime of slavery will end in violence if we don’t take the matter seriously.  John Brown wants justice in America for everyone because he believes that slavery isn’t right and everyone is equal.  John Brown made a statement that change was on the way and that, if blood had to be drawn, so be it.  Slavery was John Brown’s main reason for the fight that he started.  He led an attack on a weapons arsenal in Harpers Ferry in hopes of starting a slave rebellion.  He just wanted justice for everyone.

Good luck tomorrow, everyone!  Go Yankees!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Who's visiting the blog?

In addition to over 1,500 hits from the USA in the past 30 days, we've had 36 visits from people in Canada, 30 visits from Moldova, and visits from Singapore, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Sweden as well.  The word is getting out, guys.  People from across the world are reading your words.

Most importantly, however, my mom is still reading, and she's a little disappointed.  After I posted on Monday, she e-mailed me to say:
What’s up with the lack of comment activity on the blog?  I want to hear some opinions. 
I got 9 out of 10 questions correct on the US history test.  Aristotle is a kind of incendiary material?  Who knew?  I was looking for napalm as an answer.
Get some election stuff up there pretty soon, Prof!  What do the kids think of the tea party movement? 
From Moldovans to my mom, people want to hear from you.  Let's keep the comments coming!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hispanics Don't Feel Like Voting?

As you might know, Election Day is only four weeks away.  There will be important elections in New York State for governor, attorney general, and senator.

As you should also know, immigration has become a huge issue in American politics in the last few months.  A law in Arizona allows police officers to demand immigration papers from any person suspected of any crime--and President Obama, among others, believes that the law will lead to racist, anti-immigrant arrests.  A group of political activists called the Tea Party often make anti-immigrant statements.

With all this activity, you might think that Hispanics--the usual target of anti-immigrant rage--would want to vote in November.  But, according to an article in the Times today, "only 51 percent of Latino registered voters said they would absolutely go to the polls, compared with 70 percent of all registered voters."

Some people believe that Hispanics are especially fed up with the political process:
Matt A. Barreto, a political science professor at the University of Washington who is a pollster for Latino Decisions, a research group, said, “Latinos feel that on many of their key issues, promises were made and not delivered on” by the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats.
Latinos strongly supported Mr. Obama in 2008, so they do not have the enthusiasm of opposition that his detractors do. “It’s much easier to raise enthusiasm about kicking people out,” Mr. Barreto said.
 But others are trying hard to get Hispanics out to vote:
But Tomas Robles, a student at Arizona State, was so enraged by the law, which would require the police to ask people they stopped about their immigration status if they suspected them to be here illegally, that he registered 12 of his family members to vote, and joined other activists here in a door-to-door campaign that signed up more than 20,000 Latinos.
“For the first time, I felt it was time for me to get involved,” Mr. Robles said. He was surprised to find that while some Latinos were as fired up as he was, others slammed the door in his face. With the registration deadline past, the new focus is on motivating voters to actually vote.
What do you think?  Are you surprised by this trend?  If you could, would you vote in November?  Why or why not?  Do you think your adult family members will vote?  Why or why not?  What would you want your political representatives to do for you?

Monday, October 4, 2010

What the Mosque Would Look Like

As we've talked about the proposed mosque near Ground Zero, we've missed a few of the more interesting details.  In 802 today, Danny and George, among others, reminded me that the proposed building has very interesting architecture--both of them really liked it.  You can take a look at the picture and decide what you think for yourself.

According to Wikipedia, the mosque includes a "Muslim prayer space [which] is planned to occupy two floors of the 13 story building. Besides the prayer space, the Initiative's plan includes a 500-seat auditorium, theater, performing arts center, fitness center, swimming pool, basketball court, childcare services, art exhibitions, bookstore, culinary school, and a food court serving halal dishes."  So, that's what will be included in that massive building.

In addition, we never did talk about the name of the mosque and community center--and remember, it is a mosque and community center.  The mosque was originally named "Cordoba House," then renamed "Park51" after its location at 51 Park Place.  Why "Cordoba House"?  Cordoba, Spain, was a city that, in the 8th through 11th centuries, included large numbers of Jews, Muslims, and Christians.  According to scholars like Maria Rosa Menocal--a professor at Yale--Cordoba was unique for the mutual tolerance, respect, and appreciation that the religious groups showed for each other.

A few matters of class business as well...

  • The rest of the world and I really want to hear your opinions on President Obama's education proposals.  You had great ideas when we discussed these issues in class today.  Write a nice paragraph and tell your classmates about it.  If your ideas are thoughtful, let's get a letter together, send it to the president and see what he says!

  • 804 began to discuss the issue of sweatshops today.  We'll need to come back to this in the future.  However, you asked about specific companies--Rosanna mentioned Aeropostale and Jose mentioned Nike--and their use of sweatshop labor.  Do the research and tell us what you learn.

  • There is a website connected to America: The Story of Us, which we've been watching in class.  There are video clips and--I really like this--the "Ultimate History Quiz."  Play it and tell me what score you get.

  • Your next test is Friday.  Test Information Paper coming tomorrow...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

How to Improve Education? Obama Says: Longer School Year, Great Teachers, Parental Involvement

President Obama’s interview was broadcast to an audience at the NBC News’s “Education Nation” Summit.  (Photo and caption from
This week, NBC News has given special attention to the problem of public education.  They're talking about how few students graduate from high school with the preparation they need in order to go to college.  They're asking questions about how the education system can be improved: Do we need better teachers?  More involved parents?  Different methods of teaching?

Dozens of people have shared their opinions, but only one of them is the most powerful person in the world.  In a live interview with the Today Show on Monday, President Obama said our public education system needs "radical change."  An article and the video of the interview are available here.

He said that some of the responsibility lies with parents:
"No matter how good the teacher, if the kid's coming home from school, and the parent isn't checking to see if they are doing their homework or watching TV, that's going to be a problem," he said. "And that, by the way, is true here in this White House. Malia and Sasha are great kids, and great students. But if you gave them a choice, they'd be happy to sit in front of the TV all night long, every night. At some point you have to say, ‘Your job, kid, right now, is to learn.’ ”
Take note: Alejandro from 703 shared a very similar opinion in the post about Mark Zuckerburg's donation to the Newark schools.  The president agrees with you, Alejandro!

The president added that he thinks more money can't be the only answer.  In the past thirty years or so, our public school system has doubled the amount of money it spends per student.  The additional money hasn't led to an improvement in test scores.
"We can't spend our way out of it. I think that when you look at the statistics, the fact is that our per-pupil spending has gone up during the last couple of decades even as results have gone down," explained Obama, invited to appear by NBC as the network launched its weeklong "Education Nation" initiative.
"Obviously, in some schools money plays a big factor ... ," Obama said, pointing out that schools in the poorest areas often don't have up-to-date textbooks. "On the other hand, money without reform will not fix the problem."
 He said that he would support a longer school year.
Obama repeated his support for a longer school year after being asked about it by students from a sixth-grade class in Cincinatti, Ohio. He did not specify how long that school year should be, however he noted that U.S. students attend classes, on average, about a month less than children in most other advanced countries. 
"That month makes a difference. It means students are losing a lot of what they learn during the school year during the summer ... The idea of a longer school year, I think, makes sense," Obama said. "Now, that's going to cost some money ..., but I think that would be money well spent."
He also said that we need to improve teacher quality.  He thinks we should train teachers better, support them when they're in the classroom, and fire them if they consistently do a poor job.
"The vast majority of teachers want to do a good job ... We have to be able to identify teachers who are doing well," the president said. "Teachers who are not doing well, we have to give them the support and the training to do well. And ultimately, if some teachers are not doing a good job, they've gotta go."
The president made a special plea for great students to enter the teaching profession:
"We're going to have to fill about a million teaching slots around the country and I want young people to understand that there is not a more important profession for the success of our economy over the long term than making sure that we have great teachers in the classroom."  
Yes, he's talking to you!

So, President Obama has offered a number of solutions: parent accountability, tying money to reforms, lengthening the school year, and improving teacher quality.  What do you think of his ideas?  Be thoughtful.