Posts Tagged ‘charter schools’

Bookmarks from November 15th through November 20th 2010

Bookmarks from November 15th through November 20th 2010

“Some points to ponder: Do you make music with a venue, a context in mind? Do you create music for dive bars? Riverboats? Stadiums? Raves? Cars? iPods? Where is your music meant to be heard?” link: David Byrne Tells You Why You Probably Make Music For iPods : The New Rockstar Philosophy “The celebrities from […]

Bookmarks from Saturday June 19th-Friday June 26th

Bookmarks from Saturday June 19th-Friday June 26th

“Riches can be lost, fame can flee, but music — ephemeral as it is, just molecules of air being pushed about — stays with you. It really doesn’t get any better than this.”

link: Renewable Music: No greater pleasure

“You might have thought that with the chief of police and all those command officers present that the operation would have been run more smoothly. If that was indeed your expectation you are not a police officer, certainly not one with the LAPD. Police officers everywhere know, and LAPD officers might know best of all, that the degree of success in any tactical operation is in inverse proportion to the number of command officers present. Seldom has this proven more true than in downtown Los Angeles Thursday evening. I even saw, while running to one trouble spot with my colleagues, an assistant chief who was also running, but in the opposite direction. (It was just as well; he only would have been in the way.)”

link: Pajamas Media » What I Saw at the Lakers Riots

“In my second year I worked as his teaching assistant. CalArts had no grades, but we did have pass, high pass or fail. John’s system was if we went down the roster and could remember the person, we passed them. If we could remember the person and the work, it was a high pass. If we couldn’t remember them, we failed them, but if they came back and argued for another grade, they would pass. It was a brilliant system that could never work today.”

link: John Baldessari’s former students share memories –

“I don’t want to be like Henry Moore,” he said, “just making big monuments for public spaces, like the one beside the Met on the piazza over there. Yet I’m currently involved in a piece I didn’t want to do, for a major American orchestra I have a long history with. I wanted to write a string quartet, but this orchestra is having its centenary and they really pleaded. Eventually I had to give in.”

link: John Adams: ‘I just don’t know what to say about American classical music’ | Interview | Music | The Observer

“I have yet to eat at the Kogi truck or any of the “new” catering trucks. I will not dare turn my back on my beloved loncheras, so I haven’t had the opportunity to taste their food, a fusion of Asian and Mexican, enter The Red Hot Kitchen. I never thought that eating a tofu burrito would be so delicious. And the salsa ? Mathematical.”

link: LA Eastside » Red Hot Kitchen

“The main problem is that most of the places in 90042 that are good to watch the deportes, are not the places that are open this early morning. (Oh, the days when Mr. T’s Bowl opened at 6AM and the drinks were correctly priced.) That being said, there are a couple of good places to catch the games with people here.”

Highland Park World Cup Fever « 90042

“One particularly interesting suggestion is to have journals publish lists of rejected papers along with the accepted research. This would act as a sort of public punishment and might encourage scientists to submit their research to appropriate journals on the first try. Another method to decrease the science community’s focus on metrics would be to allow tenure candidates to submit just their top few papers for evaluation. One commentator notes that, unlike in most fields, science output is not directly proportional to effort. Instead of ranking scientists purely on their publication records, credit should be given for all sorts of activities that don’t necessarily come across in traditional metrics. Establishing publicly available datasets, serving on committees, and developing new experimental set-ups should all be taken into account in hiring and tenure decisions. More journals should follow the leads of PLoS ONE and The Journal of Negative Results and begin publishing negative or inconclusive findings.”

link:School Is Turned Around, but Cost Gives Pause –

“Locke High represents both the opportunities and challenges of the Obama administration’s $3.5 billion effort, financed largely by the economic stimulus bill, to overhaul thousands of the nation’s failing schools.The school has become a mecca for reformers, partly because the Department of Education Web site hails it as an exemplary turnaround effort.But progress is coming at considerable cost: an estimated $15 million over the planned four-year turnaround, largely financed by private foundations. That is more than twice the $6 million in federal turnaround money that the Department of Education has set as a cap for any single school. Skeptics say the Locke experience may be too costly to replicate.”“When people hear we spent $15 million, they say, ‘You’re insane,’ ” said Marco Petruzzi, chief executive of Green Dot Public Schools, the nonprofit charter school group that has remade Locke. “But when you look closely, you see it’s not crazy.”

Quality, not quantity: ending science’s “academic prostitution”

“Then I read it and responded,” said Mrs. Holzer. “Although it had no plot line. That worried me a little. I see now it should have worried me more. Basically ‘Dude’ was everyman. Everyman who loses his innocence and fights to regain it. But ‘Dude’ was also Gerry Ragni’s own life. His memories. Temptations. His fears. His struggle to create. He’s one of 10 children from a poor Italian family in Pittsburgh, you know. When he was 5 years old, he began painting crazy beautiful pictures all over the walls of his family’s house and his parents couldn’t stop him. Even then he believed he was a genius. That belief has made him tireless.

“The Dude” New York Times Review 10-22-72

Bookmarks for the week: June 22nd through June 26th [];

Bookmarks from June 22nd through June 26th:[]


teach, grade, eat, sleep is about all I do these days.

this summer it looked like I was going to be seriously underemployed so I am very grateful and lucky to even have the option of paying my bills. things are better now and i’m glad the sky didn’t completely fall in.

last spring i knew things were going to be bad when i heard that california was immediately starting a hiring freeze because of lower than expected tax receipts. then came word that the california state university system (my employer) was to immediately cut 10% from the fall 08 budget. in past years these cuts and might have been restored after a budget was passed, but the way things were going we would be lucky if the cuts stopped only at 10%.

to make a long story short, three days before school started i also got a call from a local community college who needed somebody to teach two classes the saturday before school started. since then its been a radical change of pace to be more than fully employed (19 units) and teaching many new classes (early childhood music and music appreciation, but this new schedule has reinforced my ongoing quest for the proper balance between time and money.

it’s great knowing that I can pay the bills for at least 5 more months, but with the way the economy is going I have to really wonder how much freelance teaching work will be available next spring or fall. of course at the end of the day this is all fair (and i guess somewhat expected) in the life of an adjunct faculty member. I have no tenure, but lots of flexibility to perform and compose compared to the my previous jobs as a secondary school band director (5-12). this summer (while waiting too see what my schedule would be in the fall) it really brought home the reality that i have a quite low paying job (a full-time adjunct faculty member makes 1/3 of the pay of a tenured professor) with little job security I quickly realized how this job becomes far more stressful in an economic downturn and is making me seriously reconsider my employment options.

right now i’m kind of living in the moment, day by day and lecture by lecture. i’m really enjoying teaching high school kids again (even if it is music appreciation) and could see and have contemplated going back into the secondary classroom for a much more stable and higher paying job. after getting a taste of the 40+ hour work-week i have been reintroduced to that endless cycle of teaching, grading and sleeping that leaves little room for anything else. tonight i’m grading music music theory and going over my lesson plans and lectures before tomorrow. i like it quite a bit, teaching a good class is almost as invigorating as playing a great show, though right now it would be nice to have time for both.

is this balance possible? well at least probably not teaching as an adjunct professor at a 4 year college. although adjunct faculty are notoriously treated like shit (since i don’t have a terminal degree and i expect it from my “peers”), teaching music fundamentals, music theory and music education classes have been very stimulating, but unless i’m willing to pursue a PHD and frequently relocate around the country to start my “career”, i’m keeping myself in the lowest caste of academia with no chance of financial advancement (or job security)

in august i was seriously considering heading back to be a full time “band director”, its a great job, but already i know that if i have the responsibility of teaching 5 classes a day that i can’t possibly have enough time for writing and performing. although the money is good (a tenured professor and a public school teacher make about the same pay), but running back to the safety of a full time job in secondary education isn’t going to give me any balance.

right now i’m not exactly sure what my solution is, but i guess our little financial crisis is helping motivate me to move on to the next thing. i’m not quite sure what that is yet, but my gut tells me that staying in place hoping things will work out isn’t such a good idea.

learning is doing

learning is doing

which means I have spent most of my years trying to avoid teaching music appreciation. on the face of it what could be wrong sharing the joys of listening to music? unfortunately to me teaching people how to “listen to music” is like teaching a math class without doing any math.  no matter how you cut it talking (and lecturing) about music is about as interesting as teaching an sex ed class on abstinence in alaska. most people “appreciate” music very well and the elephant is the room is that they are expected  “appreciate” art music, because it will make them smarter, more cosmopolitan, or something like that. times are tight and being one of the many california state university pt-faculty who have been cutback this fall I gotta take whatever classes that come my way.

my main concern with teaching music appreciation was confirmed after a quick perusal of a few textbooks. most are based on teaching western art music through the reduction of the historical periods in to easily digestible generic “facts” and the predictable passion and personal trivia narratives of art music composers. (i think i know why composer biopics usually suck so much, the writers are using their music appreciation books as primary source material) its not that every music appreciation book totally sucks, just that i can see that most of my time is going to be spent cherry picking reading material from a variety of sources that doesn’t reduce the lecture to simplistic cliches. my gut feeling is that the more time we are reading and listening to primary sources, the better.

i wasn’t quite sure what to expect teaching an 8 am saturday morning class on a off-campus site (a local charter school campus).  since most schools are locked down pretty tight on the weekends i figured that on the first day there would be a crowd of us waiting outside the main gate for a janitor to show up the school. I was surprised that when i pulled up at 7:30 am there was somebody waiting at the gate for me. not only was the school open and students ready to go, but I noticed they were much younger than i expected.

i realized that this was not the class that was advertised to me. after talking to the assistant principal he explained that this was an their pilot program on the saturday school concept. unlike most public schools that have many federal resources to teach kids that are below grade level on the weekends the LA Alliance charter school are partnering up with the local community college to fill this void. to me this brings up a whole bunch of obvious questions. i’m already questioning the logic in having community college teachers work with kids that are quite a bit behind on their path to graduation. (remember all need to teach community college is a masters degree, and most college professors have no training in secondary school pedagogy) this all being said, i’m happy to teach the kids in front of me not the ones you expected.

after the first hour it was obvious that their reading and writing skill are not quite ready for prime time, so by now my goals for the class are changing pretty quickly, more singing, clapping, and experiencing music as possible. gotta break up the class into 15 min segments. i’m also not going to worry about the traditional drop the needle testing of composers and titles. i’d rather have the class be able to just identify music by its elements (melody, harmony, form, rhythm and timbre). just by the short time working with them this is a pretty big goal, but i think a worthy of the class-time. i also know that this class can help improve their reading and writing skills. most students have a problem with technical reading (textbooks) and spending some time in the book, probably could help prepare them on how to use their college textbooks as a resourese and not a doorstop.

three hours on a saturday morning with a class of HS kids was not what i expected, but i really was impressed with the charter school and the students. they obviously have to be there to graduate (and probably continue as students in the school). but we sang, clapped and made a pretty good use of the time.  i’m still not sure what i’m going to do about the textbooks/CD’s ($100+) and concert attendance.  asking working class families to spend that much on a book that isn’t much of a resource to begin with is a problem, and i’m not sure how i feel about requiring HS kids to attend concerts when public transportation is their only way to get around. in a normal HS setting we would take a field trip to a show and bring groups on campus. i’ll check into seeing if this is possible.

what are my goals? is this class worth teaching? i hope so.

my gut tells me to break it up into theory and practice. if i’m going to have a class for 16 weeks and all we do is talk about music, i hope somebody shoots me.

i want kids to be able match pitch, sing simple songs, duets and rounds, learn to find and keep a steady pulse.  i’m going to teach them notation through solfege (i already started and they don’t know it yet) and hopefully tie in all the book learning by relating it through their limited in-class performance skills. i know introducing improvisation and composition should be in there somewhere, but without any keyboards, laptops or instruments, i’m not sure about it?  we could make instruments, but because these aren’t my facilities or my classroom makes the whole endeavor more complicated. its going to be a journey, and an interesting change of pace from what i am comfortable with which is probably what i need at this stage of the game.