Maybe He Can Pen Us A Baristanet Bluegrass Ditty

Despite what some golks might think, Baristanet loves a feel-good story, especially when kids are involved. James Feinberg, a 9-year-old third grader at Hillside School in Montclair, attends the Gifted and Talented program on weekends at Montclair State, where he is enrolled in a creative writing class.
He recently wrote a poem for class entitled “Sayings,” and submitted it to the website of a Brooklyn-based, family oriented bluegrass band called Astrograss. The band holds contests for children to submit poetry, and sets the winners’ words to music that the band composes.
James won, and Astrograss performed his song to a full house this month at Symphony Space on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.


That’s James, with the band and sister, Lily, a first grader at Nishuane.
For the poem, click to the jump…

by James Feinberg
Lately my mom’s been telling me
“A leopard can’t change his spots.”
So to prove her wrong didn’t take that long.
But the leopard didn’t like the paint a lot.
Lately my dad’s been telling me
“You’re like a bull in a china shop.”
So I went down to the farm to ask for a bull.
The damage took a long time to mop.
Lately my uncle’s been telling me
“No more monkey business, Paul.”
So I went and looked at some monkeys.
Most of them weren’t any good at law.
Lately my aunt’s been telling me
“Paul, it’s a dog’s life.”
So I watched an Irish terrier.
But all I got was a bite.
Lately my sister’s been telling me
“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
So I checked out a couple of bestsellers.
And all I had to say was “Oh, brother.”
Lately my cousin’s been telling me
“One good turn deserves another.”
So I tried 2 good turns in dad’s car.
I got 3 hours of screams from my mother.
I can’t understand what people say these days!
I just can’t, not a bit, not at all!
What all these people are saying
Just drives me up a wall!

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  1. We are indeed fortunate to have such an outstanding resource for Gifted & Talented Children children so close to us.
    The Montclair State program is wonderful. The director, Steven Nash, is exceptional. Others associated with the program are known nationally for their work with Gifted Children.
    It is unfortunate, however, that the Montclair Public Schools have decided to make only small efforts — e.g. the SAIL program — towards Gifted programs, despite state law requiring such programs.
    Indeed it is ironic that Montclair State has recently instituted both graduate and undergraduate degree programs in Gifted Education yet the Montclair Public Schools do not have a SINGLE position designated for a Gifted/Talented teacher, and as we all know the Board of Education eliminated the ONE part-time coordinator position from last year’s budget, saying they couldn’t afford it.

  2. Perhaps more programs are needed, but that shouldn’t distract from the fact that the schools are terrific!
    The teachers are dedicated and fantastic, the kids are challenged and happy, and graduates of the high school go on to some of the top public and private colleges in the country.

  3. The schools are NOT terrific. The vast majority of kids in the middle get nothing. Social segregation is the norm…observe the cafeteria at the middle and high schools. The sports at the HS are clearly racially delineated. The high school never even makes the top 100 by any measure. Anyone can take any “honors” course. The AP curriculum is at the teachers whim. The administration only cares about looking good. What planet have you been hiding in?

  4. One thing I notice about the town, especially the schools, is that there is this “mirror, mirror on the wall” sort of evaluation that goes on.
    People say “we have the best schools” and I ask “says who” and they say “the superintendent.”
    The Town Manager says we have the best tree cover and expert care takers and someone says “says who” and he says “the guy who runs the shade tree division.”
    The Mayor says we have one of the best run and most efficiently managed towns in the state and you ask “says who” and he says “The Town Manager.”
    There’s no outside measures. There’s no “best practices” We just look into the mirror and say “Look! There’s the best!”

  5. okay, not to start a whole nasty debate, but my husband and i currently live in montclair with young children and are going to look for a new house in the spring. should we ditch town and go over to glen ridge? are montclair schools purty bad? is anybody happy with them? i mean, hell, the plofkers send their kids there–how bad can they be?

  6. Is it just a question of schools, i.e. are you prepared for the huge rise in taxes in Montclair?
    School wise, I’d choose Montclair over Glen Ridge, but if you’re looking to go beyond, I’d probably make another choice, e.g. Millburn schools are excellent.

  7. The teachers are underpaid- the BOE is overpaid
    Bingo! You get the award for most intelligent comment on the subject in the last six months! You mean that 5% raise all the $120K plus people at the Central Office gave themselves while cutting the ONE 1/2 time SAIL coordinator? Or maybe we want to talk about all the consultants, specialists, assistant principals and other dead wood?

  8. Yes, lets talk about the deadwood and how many individuals earn over $120,000
    Lets also talk about spending – spending on Woodman field – how much was it to “move the field”? I remember a figure of $750,000. Did it accomplish anything?
    Now how much for soil remediation – what is the contamination – old ashes?
    I know that they’ve found this contamination under the bleachers – have they looked anywhere else? Should we assume it’s everywhere? Have they put the remediation out to bid?
    I read somewhere that the BOE has known about the problem since spring of 2005.
    Have they told the public?
    How much will it cost?

  9. “the BOE is overpaid”
    I thought that the BOE was unpaid?
    “Yes, lets talk about the deadwood and how many individuals earn over $120,000”
    How many people is that?

  10. Montclair Bd. of Ed are poor excuses for humans! Thry are a disgrace for employing lousy teachers and principals..I heard frightening stories about the Mtc school system..I wouldnt send my dog there.

  11. Many times I am asked why I do not go into public school teaching since I am certified in history and English and am a pathetically underpaid college professor.
    Reading the above tells me why. Also, the horror stories I hear of parents who are literally in class with their children. I wonder where my academic freedom would be? I wonder if I would be thrown out for not always towing the party line/rope. Hmmm….I do need the money….I do have the creativity and the passion…maybe I could…however, a past experience subbing in the prestigious Glen Ridge district turned me off from public school teaching totally.
    I will not repeat it; I will say that the high school honors English students were apathetic, unaware of nuances and most interested in reporting that “with the money that my dad has, he could get me in anywhere. So there.”

  12. Comment deleted…
    Posted by: Catholicism | December 28, 2006 2:38 AM ”
    Dear Barista,
    I’m surprised that you don’t consider the post above Libelous.
    Oh well- such is your new libel policy

  13. The teachers in Glen Ridge may be underpaid, but the majority of teachers in Montclair are under qualified and over-represented! The complaints against the schools and Board are absolutely heinous..

  14. Bradford Academy is a scary place for children!! Shame on the Montclair Board of ed for allowing that place to be ran with such prejudices.. God doesn’t like ugly!!!

  15. The rest of the schools are at stake with the poor excuses directing the Montclair BOE. Try highering people at Bradford Academy that are family oriented instead of employing “Hells Angels” bikers to poorly educate children. They seem like a satanic cult. Absolutely disgusting beasts..HIPPOCRATES!

  16. I have two kids in the Montclair school system. They’re doing fine and have decent teachers.
    Nobody on the Board of Education is paid. The school administrators are paid. Understand the difference, and stop posting inflammatory, semi-literate comments.

  17. Listen up illiterate misfit, It doesn’t imply that the Board of Ed is paid you idiot,the message is clearly written. However, it does directly state that the staff and teachers are poor poor leaders in today”s society.
    Furthermore, if your entitled to state your opinions im certainly entitled to state mine and whomever, else might have one. If your kids are doing fine that’s your business so mind it. moron!

  18. nuts,
    The people working at the BOE are paid. As a matter of fact quite a few of them are paid $120,000 and over.
    The people at the BOE also spend our money like it was free- $750,000 to move the ballfield 17 feet. $683,000 to remidiate “old fill” on the same ball fiels- something that came as a “surprise” but that the DEP says the BOE knew about since 2004.
    Don’t forget the Fortunato Field Fiasco

  19. I also have heard horror stories about a particular school in Montclair. While I am fortunate enough that my children didn’t encounter any of the problems I feel bad for the ones that did because they didn’t deserve it, the teacher did. Because this can easily have been y children I am not comfortable here and will be moving when they finsih this year out. A corrupt school system is everyone’s problem! Take a stance…

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