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A TEACHER'S COMMENTS ON BETSY DEVOS

NOTE: The following commentary was written by my son, Marc Cascio,a veteran teacher in the Fairfax County (VA) Public Schools. It is printed here with his permission.

     The saddest thing about Betsy DeVos getting voted in as Secretary of Education is that it doesn't surprise me at all. Thevery idea that someone who has no public education experience whatsoever should be in charge of public education isindicative of how many people in our nation seem to feel about educators.

     I watch some of the extraordinary young teachers I work with busting their asses constantly and can't help but think they should be doing something else. They should be doing something where their superhuman work ethic is nurtured, cultivated, and rewarded both financially and emotionally. They should be doing something where their creativity isn't stifled by having to prepare for the next standardized test, and where they can express their individuality through their work without having to acquiesce to the demands of a "team" for fear that parents will raise hell because the number of assignments or the amount of work isn't completely even from room to room. But mostly, they shouldn't have to endure the ultimate insult: being told that a moron who has never taught is fit to hold the highest rank in their profession.

     DeVos's attainment of that highest rank isn't the worst thing that will happen to public education: The worst thing will be the fallout, when many of the extraordinary young teachers I was just writing about give up and leave the profession in droves.

© Marc Cascio. All rights reserved

Comments? Please send to chuckwrites@yahoo.com

Interview with Books Go Social

Books Go Social, a very effective online book promotion organization, interviewed me recently about writing in general and The Fire Escape Stories in particular. The interview gave me the chance to reflect on a number of factors that have influenced me in my writing career...and a couple of unique situations, including a surprise lunch interview with Elizabeth Taylor, that go hand-in-hand with this crazy profession! Take a look for yourself at booksgosocial.com/2017/01/04/the-fire-escape-stories-an-interview-with-author-chuck-cascio/ .   

Also...I am pleased and proud to announce that I have been invited by the Reston Historic Trust and Museum to read from, discuss, and sign copies of The Fire Escape Stories, Volumes I & II on Thursday, January 19, from 7PM-9PM.  The event will be held at the Reston (VA)  Museum, 1639 Washington Plaza on Reston's iconic Lake Anne. Bring your copy of the book(s), or purchase one or both volumes there. Hope to see you on the 19th!
 

THE FIRE ESCAPE...IN MY MIND by Mike Burns

     
THE FIRE ESCAPE...IN MY MIND
  by Mike Burns         
     Yes, it is hazy, that fire escape, but it is real. The smell of the grates is real. The rust that stuck to our shirts is real. The rickety stairs leading to...who knows? The street? Trouble? Danger? Safety? I never knew for sure. I still don't know. But it is real. Hazy...but real.

     I still visit it...in my mind. Still scan the blocks of the neighborhood from it. Hear the a cappella voices rising from the corner. Wonder about what was said, what we did, why we did it, how we laughed, how we argued, how long innocence lasted, when it left exactly. The stairs shook when we walked on them. They creaked, they felt as though they might give way at any moment, a structure meant to protect could destroy with a single step. But it was, ultimately, our step to take or not to take. Hazy even then, I guess.

     We leave people and things behind, but some remain. They are not always clear. They are not always exact. They are often flickering replicas of what we once knew. But they are real. The people. The decisions. The results. The remnants.

     Hazy...but real. Like that fire escape in my mind.

Read The Fire Escape Stories, Volumes I and IIamazon.com/dp/1537411128 

© Copyright Chuck Cascio. 2016. All rights reserved.

 

Sally-Boy, Mikey, and Robert Frost

 

In my books, The Fire Escape Stories, Volumes I and II, neither Sally-Boy Boccanera nor Mike Burns is likely to wax poetic. However, in Volume II, as they grow and become more aware of the world swirling around them in the early 1960s, the political turmoil, the overt racism, and the drumbeats of war, they might well relate to the concerns some people feel today. And perhaps, while sitting on that rusty Brooklyn fire escape trying to make sense of the world, this final stanza of  Robert Frost's poem "Reluctance" might help the boys identify something that is emerging inside them. Does it do the same for you? Let me know your thoughts at chuckwrites@yahoo.com 

Ah, when to the heart of man
   Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
   To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
   Of a love or a season?

Jonathan Edwards on Bob Dylan

My friend singer, songwriter Jonathan Edwards (www.jonathanedwards.net) had these rather eloquent comments in reaction to my Blog about Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. I think Jonathan provides a unique insight as to what Dylan meant not only to a generation with his social commentary through song, but also what Dylan meant to artists themselves:

Bob was the guy who spoke for us, gave voice to our ever-churning, urgent desire to have things make sense, for our burgeoning culture to achieve the peace he let us know just might be possible. I don't think any of us really knew what each and every song was about, but he engendered in us the will and the curiosity to endeavor to find out and to see ourselves to be as little like Mr. Jones as we could. And he did it all within  a range from smirking satirist to humble servant of the truth and everywhere between and beyond. And all of this contained and illustrated with a reverent music accessible to us all...an entire grateful hungry generation. Thanks Bob, you're the best!

Your thoughts are, as always, welcome by writing me at chuckwrites@yahoo.com. Be sure to check out Jonathan's ever busy concert schedule and new releases at www.jonathanedwards.net.  

© Chuck Cascio