• Overheard at Starbucks again….” It’s only if you ask!”

    Several years ago, I was at Starbucks, buying a pound of coffee to take home. I then asked the barista, "Don't I get a free cup of coffee when I buy a bag in bulk?" “It’s only if you ask,” was her reply. I was taken aback. Apparently, the system was set up to create a conversation. (Starbucks' policy seems to have changed. The last few times I've asked I was told that I can only get a free cup of coffee with my purchase if I use a Starbucks card...). Too bad for me, as I don't have one [...]
  • Overheard at the “T” in Boston

    Several years ago, when I took the "T" (Boston's subway system) on a crowded afternoon, I saw the token guy standing near the turn style with a basket. He said, in a rather loud and friendly voice, "If you have exact change, put it in here. Don’t give it to me or I’ll go to jail. I you have exact change, put it in here. Don't give it to me or I'll go to jail. If you have exact change, put it in here......" Wow. What excellent in-service training. His job was to help the public. He [...]
  • Overheard at Subway

    I love Subway sandwiches--especially the tuna with everything on it except onions and green pepper. So, I walked into the Subway at the student union at Stanford. I say to young man at cash register. “Wow you are always busy.” “You should have seen it 30 minutes ago, " he replied, pointing to the door. "The line was out to there.” “Well, you have a good product.” He, with a big smile. “You gotta eat fresh!” I was so impressed! He got the company message. "You gotta eat fresh." [...]
  • Overheard at Starbucks…

    "We don't have dogs in here." "Oh." The 'customer' started to walk away... The young, and obviously clever, barista responded, "Would you like me to bring your coffee to you out here?" "Sure." The customer was smiling now... and the dog was happy, too, I presume. Problem solved. Fabulous customer service. We need more of that everywhere--including in schools. And sometimes, it's not even that hard!
  • Overheard at citizenship ceremony, “It’s your great day!”

    I happened upon a citizenship ceremony in San Francisco's Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium. It was 2005 and 1445 new citizens were to be sworn in. I watched along with families and friends and crying babies and balloons and flowers and flash cameras. "This is the country where you can achieve anything that you set out to do," the presiding official told us. When we stood to sing the national anthem, I choked up. More than 50 years since I landed on these shores in Hoboken New Jersey, I am [...]
  • Overheard at the playground.

    Again, I'm sorry for the lapse in blogging. What have I been up to? Actually, I'm of counsel at my lawfirm and have more time to ruminate, clean out my office, write, agitate for reforms, speak, and remain active. I can also take more time to see and observe stuff and spend as much time as possible with my little granddaughter. Life is good. So today, I walked through a playground on my way to work. It was around noontime and one of the teachers was ‘dragging’ her little charges along [...]
  • Lawsuit against NYC exam schools cites test validity!

    Ah, finally, here's a case with rumblings about test validity. Validity in testing requires that tests be used only for the purpose they were created. Here's a lawsuit about the exam used by NYC to select students for its 8 exam schools have not been validated for the purpose they are being used. The complaint alleges that the exam is not validated to predict success in the selected schools--and thus should not be used as a criteria. Go forth! I have argued for years that validity in [...]
  • Betty Hart died at 85.

    Who, you say, is Betty Hart? I suspect you know her by her work. She and Todd R. Risley were the researchers who discovered the fact that many middle and upper class parents talk to their babies far more--and in more positive and encouraging terms--than do many parents in poverty. And, that the lingering effect of this uneven early language development stays with children for many years and is very difficult to overcome. The fact that early childhood education focuses on helping parents [...]
  • Parents boycotting tests in New York City, but missing a key argument!

    The New York Times today reports that groups of New York City parents are boycotting sampling tests. These tests that children take--about reading, writing, and arithmetic, etc.--are samples for those that will be used to evaluate teachers and schools, among other purposes. But wait! There's a real reason to question the use of these tests to evaluate schools and teachers. That reason? They are NOT VALID for that purpose. It is a misuse of them--since these tests are designed to see [...]
  • ‘Education parents!’

    Yes! it's not a typo. Joanne Jacobs picked up a good piece about what it takes to be an 'education parent,' a parent that supports children in their learning. I love it! I believe that--to improve learning for general and special education students, we need 'education parents.' It almost doesn't matter if the specifics in this piece are the 'right' ones. What matters is that we focus in the role parents can play in their children's education. Thus, I was very glad to see this piece.