Plus, North Carolina third grade: In yesterday’s New York Times, columnist Jim Dwyer profiled Deb Fisher, an outstanding public school teacher.
More precisely, Fisher is an occupational therapist at Public School 333, the Manhattan School for Children. Dwyer profiled Fisher because she’s now serving a 30-day suspension without pay, thanks to what Dwyer calls “a story of an almost unfathomably mindless school bureaucracy at work.”
If you’re interested in that particular bungling, you can read Dwyer’s full column. We thought we’d highlight one parent’s assessment of Fisher’s long-term work.
Dwyer describes the way Fisher has helped “a young boy build a record of blazing success” in recent years. According to Sawyer, Fisher and others at P.S. 333 “raised money on Kickstarter for a program that she and the student, Aaron Philip, 13, created called This Ability Not Disability.”
In the following passage, Dwyer describes the project in more detail. As he does, he quotes a parent expressing his gratitude for all the work Fisher has done:
DWYER (10/3/14): [T]he entire school, including the principal, was involved in the Kickstarter project...the money was to be used not by Ms. Fisher, but by Aaron, who is writing a graphic book and making a short film about Tanda, a regular kid who is born with a pair of legs in a world where everybody else has a pair of wheels.“It’s beyond measure, the greatness, of how she has exposed Aaron to so many things!” We thought that statement by that parent was well worth repeating.
Aaron has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair to navigate the world. Ms. Fisher has worked with him since kindergarten.
“It’s beyond measure, the greatness, of how she has exposed Aaron to so many things,” Aaron’s father, Petrone Philip, said.
Aaron writes a lively Tumblr blog called Aaronverse. He has addressed all the employees of Tumblr as a guest of David Karp, who created the platform. He was taken under the wing of Fred Seibert, the founder of a hugely successful animation studio, Frederator, who had mentored Mr. Karp when he was a teenager inventing Tumblr. On his blog, Aaron urged Good Housekeeping to make sure that its research arm included disabled children in its testing of toys.
All of this was possible because he is a powerful presence, and he had Ms. Fisher at his side, according to the boy’s father. “She goes above and beyond the call of duty,” Mr. Philip said.
By happenstance, we’d discussed outstanding teachers with our own niece just the night before. We spoke telephonically about her 8-year-old daughter’s third grade year, which is ongoing.
Earlier, we’d discussed the same topic with the third grader in question.
This cheerful student attends a regular neighborhood school three blocks from her home in a North Carolina city you’ve heard of. As best we can tell, that state is now providing less information about individual schools than was the case a few years ago. But according to greatschools.org, this school was 25 percent white, 34 percent black and 36 percent Hispanic last year.
Back when the state was providing such data, this school had a higher percentage of low-income students than the national average. The school boasts some professors’ kids, some kids from public housing and some newly-arrived immigrant kids who aren’t speaking English yet.
(The third grader in question has grown up speaking Spanish in the home. For that reason, starting in kindergarten, she got to be one of the kids who help the kids who aren’t yet speaking English. As we discovered a few years ago, it's a fabulous thing to see.)
Our niece has always had lots of good things to say about that third-grader’s teachers. She said her daughter still can’t wait to go to that school every day.
Our niece and her daughter have great things to say about those public school teachers! Last weekend, we also spent time each day in a Medicaid-funded long-term care facility in the Hudson Valley.
We were visiting an 87-year-old friend with Parkinson’s disease. He no longer speaks very much, but he recently told his wife that he wants to make it to 88.
In the four years we’ve been visiting there, we’ve often been struck by the decency of the people who work there. To cite one example, [Name Withheld] is a constant smiling presence with her music therapy, which creates unmistakable interest.
We thought those comments from Dwyer’s column were well worth reposting today. On The One True Liberal Channel, there seems to be a rule against discussion of public schools and public school teachers like Fisher.
For unknown reasons, NBC News has weirdly (and inappropriately) promoted “education reform” down through the years. On the network’s cable arm, an unwritten rule seems to forbid discussion of the nation’s rising test scores and its real-life public school teachers.
In the mid-1990s, MSNBC was created in a partnership between the Microsoft of Bill Gates and the NBC News of Jack Welch. As far as we know, Gates is completely sincere in his views about education. But we’ve never seen any major sign that he actually understands public schools, and his money has massively tilted the discourse about education all across the board.
Welch retired in 2001; Microsoft has sold its interest in the cable arm. That said, a certain orientation does perhaps seem to remain.
Read that parent’s words of praise! We think people should hear such things being said and discussed on their TV machines.
Kindergarten in Amsterdam/YouTube can be astounding: What’s it like to be the kid in kindergarten who isn’t yet speaking the language? To see Anne Frank's best friend explain that point, you can just click here.