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Back To School: So You Think You’re Tough?

Written by John Owens, Friday, 13 September 2013 00:00

This is an excerpt from my recently published book, Confessions of a Bad Teacher: The Shocking Truth from the Front Lines of American Public Education. I taught English in a South Bronx public school I call Latinate Institute, which fashioned itself a model of “school reform.” One of the hard-and-fast rules of the principal was that any disruptions, problems or behavior issues in the classroom had to be handled by the teacher — and only the teacher. Don’t even think of calling in the assistant principal or dean, and forget about sending a kid out of the classroom.

My colleagues recommended that I rein in the students by being a “badass.” But, as I say in the book, “I’m not a high school Dirty Harry. I’m enthusiastic.” And most of the students were wonderful kids who responded well to my enthusiasm. But there were others, too. In this passage, I try the “badass” approach with the worst of the classroom miscreants.


Public Schools: Adam Smith Won’t Fix Them

Written by John Owens, Thursday, 29 August 2013 00:00

Recently, I have been on the radio talk-show circuit promoting my new book, which exposes the ugly realities of what passes for “school reform,”and how the current obsession with test scores and other data is playing a big part in destroying a public education system that once was the envy of the world.

Of course, much of talk radio takes an anti-government attitude on just about every subject (“Traffic lights? Why should the government have a monopoly on traffic lights?!”). So my plea for fixing — not dismantling — our public schools rarely is met with sympathy.

Here’s what I typically hear from the host:


Top 10 Things Bartenders Know… That You Don’t!

Thursday, 22 August 2013 10:20

No matter how experienced a barfly you may be, rest assured that your friendly neighborhood bartender has seen and heard it all during his or her time slinging pints and mixing drinks in your local watering hole. According to Joe Bruno, director at the American Bartenders School of New York, these are the most common facts that the majority of people imbibing are unaware of.


The Art Of The Mix

Thursday, 22 August 2013 00:00

There’s an anonymous quote floating around the web stating that a bartender is just a pharmacist with a limited inventory. That said, in the best and worst of times (which can sometimes occur in the same evening), it’s often the barkeeper who’ll not only keep your glass full and spirits up, but prove to be the equivalent of a street corner therapist, albeit one that serves alcohol. The following are profiles of some of the more intriguing mixologists we at the Long Island Weekly have crossed paths with, be it on land or at sea. And if finding out what each one’s signature drink is and how to make it isn’t enough, we’ve even included some bar facts to absorb as you enjoy your libation as you read this. So drink up.

— Dave Gil de Rubio


Commissioners Channel Chicken Little

Written by John Owens, Friday, 16 August 2013 00:00

Now, we’re supposed to be really scared. It was bad enough when the news broke last week that third- through eighth-graders around New York had performed horribly on new state math and English tests. But when U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and state Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said that the results were even worse than expected, many parents and other taxpayers were overcome with consternation.

“Worse than expected?!”

“With all of the school taxes I pay?”

“Local officials, principals and teachers had been telling us our kids were doing fine. But now?”


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