Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia’

Should Philly let Tony Danza teach high school?

Posted by sanityinjection on August 14, 2009

This post is especially for Ms. D, because she’s a teacher and because she requested a non-politics post for a change ūüôā

The Associated Press is reporting that cable network A&E is finalizing a deal for a new reality show called “Teach” in which veteran actor Tony Danza would co-teach a 10th grade English class in an urban Philadelphia high school. School officials will vote next week on whether to accept the deal, which would allow at least 13 episodes of the show to be shot at Northeast High School. The school district would receive $3500 per episode (for a total of¬† $45,500) plus expenses, and would have the right to “object to footage”.

So the question arises: Is this a good idea? Should the school sign on for this project or reject it? Let’s look at some of the pros and cons.

Pro: Danza might actually make a decent teacher. He’s a talented, down-to-earth individual who worked hard to get where he is. He’s clearly embraced the project, having read the literature in the school’s curriculum and attended new teacher orientation. He’s the type of person who could inject enthusiasm into a subject and get kids to pay attention.

Con: Students might well find the cameras to be a distraction. The show might foster a circus-like atmosphere in the school which would be bad for students and teachers alike.

Pro: Danza’s presence might help with teacher recruitment and student attendance and call attention to the challenges of urban public education. Real teachers at the school might gain recognition for what they do every day.

Con: Other teachers might be concerned about the way the show portrays their job. If Danza is a success, having had little training, they might worry that people will ask why other teachers who have professional training can’t achieve the same results. If Danza struggles, they might worry that his difficulties will be blamed on the school system (lack of funding, rigid institutional culture etc.) Since Danza is the focus, anyone who disagrees with him or opposes him in any way could come off looking badly.

Pro: The school district could use the money from the show to benefit students at other schools in the district.

Con: $45,000 is a drop in the bucket for an urban school budget and wouldn’t go very far.

Pro: Having the right to object to footage assures the school can avoid being presented negatively. Also, A&E has a better reputation for serious programming than most networks.

Con: It’s not clear whether the right to “object” to footage is the same as the right to veto it. And while A&E clains that the show will be produced in a responsible way, ultimately the goal is ratings, and it’s not hard to imagine that the show could try to “creatively” influence events at the school in a way that wouldn’t necessarily be in the school’s best interest.

I am honestly on the fence about this one. My gut reaction is that it’s a bad idea, but from Philly’s perspective they must be thinking that if they don’t greenlight it the show will just go somewhere else. With the planning having gone this far, the school probably doesn’t want to look like they are resistant to new ideas. The city’s mayor and at least some school officials are supporting the idea.

Fundamentally, I think my main objection is that the goal of educating students will necessarily become secondary to the goal of producing a successful TV show. I’m sure the producers don’t feel those goals are mutually exclusive – and often they may not be – but if push comes to shove, the money and the cameras will call the shots, and that’s not good for students, faculty, or administration.

What do you think?


Posted in Current Events | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Think racism mostly thrives in the South? Think again.

Posted by sanityinjection on July 8, 2009

This is one of the most blatant examples of racism I’ve seen in a long time:

And let it be stressed that it happened not in the Deep South but in Philadelphia, a “blue” city in a “blue” state that voted for Obama. And yet, Philadelphia, like many¬†Northern cities, ¬†does have a history of racism as disturbing as anything in the South. (New York City, too,¬†has had plenty of race riots over its long history.)

If the members of the Valley Swim Club are so prejudiced that they want to get out of the pool when black children enter it, that is their right to do so. But for the club to renege on its agreement with the Creative Steps Day Camp and prevent the children from using their pool is indefensible. If you don’t want outsiders in your pool, don’t take their money. Apparently the Swim Club wasn’t concerned about the color of the day camp’s money until its members complained about the color of their skin.

What’s particularly disturbing was the remarks made by a white parent as overheard by one of the black campers: “I’m scared they [the black kids]might do something to my child.” It’s hard to imagine that a kid would make up something like that, so let’s assume it’s true. First of all, what is a black kid going to do to a white kid that another white kid couldn’t just as easily do? Shoot them in the face? Second of all, whence the assumption that black people are all hooligans? Or is it rather a case of projection, in which the white parent assumes that the blacks must dislike her and her child as much as she fears and dislikes them?

I’m sure this incident is embarrassing to the many good people of Philadelphia, and I hope that the Valley Swim Club and its members will find themselves the subject of intense pressure to change¬†their attitude.

Posted in Domestic News | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Obama Administration drops voter intimidation charges against racist thugs!

Posted by sanityinjection on May 29, 2009

This is a disturbing story. During the 2008 election, at a polling place in Philadelphia, three members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense took it upon themselves to “stand guard” at the entrance to the polling place,¬†wearing military-style uniforms and targeting voters with racial slurs. One of the men was visibly armed with a nightstick. Needless to say, voters were intimidated and frightened. Civil rights activist Bartle Bull, a veteran of the struggle to secure the rights of blacks to vote in the Deep South, said:

In my opinion, the men created an intimidating presence at the entrance to a poll. In all my experience in politics, in civil rights litigation and in my efforts in the 1960s to secure the right to vote in Mississippi … I have never encountered or heard of another instance in the United States where armed and uniformed men blocked the entrance to a polling location.”

The Justice Department properly pursued the case and expected to win since the defendants refused to appear or answer the complaint against them. Inexplicably, higher-ups at Justice appointed by President Obama have now ordered  the lower-level lawyers (who are not political appointees) to drop the charges.

I must ask this of my liberal friends: Does anyone seriously think that if this had been three Klansmen dressed in hoods and sheets, that these charges would be dropped without a massive outcry in the media? And yet, you can bet that you will not hear this story being trumpeted by the massive organs of the liberal media. And where is the Democratic Party’s oft-expressed concern about voter suppression? I guess it doesn’t apply as long as the thugs in question happen to be black.

More than anything, this reminds me of the permissive attitude toward politically motivated violence during the Weimar Republic in Germany in the 1920s and early 1930s. Local officials routinely looked the other way or sat by helplessly while paramilitary groups affiliated with both the left and right wings did battle in the streets. We all know what resulted from that.

The issue is not whether these three fools are especially dangerous – the legal case was not a criminal complaint but a civil one. The issue is that the Administration’s action will certainly serve notice to other such thugs that they can use violence to threaten and intimidate voters without fear of retribution – as long as they are backing the right (or indeed, the Left) cause.

So the next time you encounter a left-wing protester, carrying a sign demanding the legalization of gay marriage, the enactment of restrictive carbon emissions legislation, or the closing of Guantanamo Bay, ask them when they will be speaking out against voter intimidation and supression by the “Philadelphia Three”.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »