jay-z Archives - The Jose Vilson

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How I Might Have Intro’d The Bammy Awards

by Jose Vilson on September 24, 2013

in Jose

Secretary Arne Duncan and comedian Stephen Colbert, both of whose job I would do so much better at, but I'll stick to teaching anyways

Secretary Arne Duncan and comedian Stephen Colbert, both of whose job I would do so much better at, but I’ll stick to teaching anyways

There’s been lots of talk about this past Saturday’s Bammy Awards. I’ve written a bunch on diversity at the Bammys and even the executive producer left a comment here after our feisty discussion. However, I’ve kept mute during and after the Bammy Awards, letting others report out. As with any awards show, there were lots of bright spots and dim spots, almost all of them from people who actually attended. A discussion has erupted around the idea of humor and appropriateness in the education circle. Rather than speak on something I didn’t witness myself, I’d like a turn at introducing the Bammys. We’ll call it a do-over.

[Starts with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan welcoming everyone from his office. Insert platitudes about respect for teachers here. Zooms out where you see a black pair of pants on the left side of him. Duncan keeps talking, but as camera zooms out, audience notices Jose Vilson with "not impressed" face. Duncan keeps talking. Camera keeps zooming in to Vilson's face. Camera stops at his mouth. Vilson yells, "Welcome to the Bammyyyyyyyyssss!" with Chuck D impersonation.]

[Female voice says, "Welcome To The Bammys, with:". Reads list of every person there with a Klout score higher than 50 and other special guests, which is like everybody. She says, "Here's your host, Joseeeee Vilson!!!]

*cues up instrumental to “N-Words In Paris” by Jay-Z and Kanye West*

[Vilson runs on stage with a suit and Yankee brimmed hat]

Everybody scream!

So I teach so hard, Mayor Bloomberg wanna fire me, but first he gotta find me
What’s 50 grand to a teacher like me? That’s a lot, don’t you remind me!
(Teach so hard) I teach crazy, my teacher rating don’t even faze me
My kids could go 0 for 82 on their tests and I look at you like this job’s gravy
(Teach so hard) Teach so hard, this thing rare
We ain’t even supposed to be here!
(Teach so hard) Since we here, we might as well treat kids fair …

HA!

[Stop music]

OK, OK, OK, that was fun. Welcome everyone to the Second Annual Bammy Awards! We have a live audience today of some of the coolest kids in the sandbox gathered here today, and who better to MC this event than the guy whose faculty always pegs for the guy who’s gonna rap for karaoke? I mean, just because I know Fresh Prince’s “Summertime” by heart doesn’t mean …

Seriously, I’m OK with being one of [Vilson counts audience members] five Cocoa Puffs in a big bowl of milk. Really. I just made Errol Smith really uncomfortable. My bad, dawg.

By the way, Melinda Anderson didn’t write this one for me. I does it all by himself!

Also, I had to cut down my speech by 40% due to austerity measures. I’m doing most of this on comp time, so I’ll take a nap shortly after this.

So welcome to this set of awards. I flew in from New York City, and my arms are in fact tired. It’s been a lot of indecision over the last month. Indecision about who New York City wants for Democratic mayor, indecision over whether Obama’s gonna bomb Syria, indecision over whether I was wearing the long blue tie or the black bowtie. This is why smart men need smarter partners in their lives. And so do I. Thanks, Luz.

One thing I have decided is that, yes, Senator Ted Cruz is crazy! He’s at least worth five Buzzfeed articles and 20 GIFs. Is that like a currency now? If so, does Kenzo Shibata and the rest of the Chicago Teachers Union get to judge which ones make it from this audience? Aren’t you happy they won? Here’s a group of teachers who said, “We’re mad at hell! We want normal stuff like toilet paper for kids and open schools! Yes! We’re not gonna take it anymore!” This is where I’d make a GIF of Jonah Edelman followed by a tuba, preferably playing the “Price Is Wrong” theme song.

[Plays theme song for audience. Vilson makes fake sad face.]

You also probably noticed the inconspicuously dressed bodyguard at the door checking bags. Yes, that was Alfie Kohn scanning your bags and tossing out homework. Yes, it was. Doubt me if you must.

My friend and SLA principal Chris Lehmann’s here. You ever wonder why he smiles so much? I got the secret: he chews on his sons. I mean, Jakob and Theo never quit being adorable on Instagram. Actually, I get to judge your smiles based on how many chewable kids you have. Brand new parents tend to have the whitest teeth. It’s true.

Michael Doyle’s here. I heard him call me the greatest education blogger of all time. I know he didn’t say that, but I’ll take my award and leave anyways. Deuces! Errol’s looking at me right now like, “If this guy doesn’t stay right there …”

Mary Beth Hertz couldn’t be here, sadly. She’s a great Edutopia blogger out of Philly and she sends her regard. You’ll notice a slight change in her avatar if you’re following her on Twitter. Instead of hugging her tech tools and smiling at the camera, she’s flinging them at Mayor Nutter and every Philly school official in sight. She’s kinda angry. Right, Randi Weingarten?

John Spencer said he couldn’t be here. He says he doesn’t really wear suit and ties. Justin Timberlake does not approve.

That wasn’t funny? Scott McLeod thinks I deserve a better audience.

Audrey Watters isn’t in the audience yet. She’s at the bar drinking the Edmodo folks under the table. She deserves a badge for that.

A couple of big education books have come out recently. Invent to Learn by Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager came out, which explains the increase of pterodactyls all up in your timelines. No, I’m not calling Gary Stager old. Nor a flying reptile. Just when you search for “pterodactyl” on Ye Old Encyclopedia Brittanica … goodness, don’t you dare blog about this!

Reign of Error by Diane Ravitch came out this year. It was wild. Her marketing strategy was genius! Have a ton of popular bloggers and news outlets write about her and her upcoming book on their blogs and she’d link back to them to increase the dialogue. Shortly thereafter, she introduced the book to the people who actually like her!

The hate came in droves! It’s like those people who leave flyers on your door from all the restaurants you already tried and didn’t like. Except, because she’s an education historian, she goes to her computer and writes a book about it. The rest of us aren’t always as prodigious, I assure you.

Michelle Rhee came out with a book, too, entitled Radical. Now, now, DC, no need to boo. She says she’s a radical, but really, I think she’s a square. Chuckle, chuckle, math jokes, hardy. It’s about TIME!

Is Finland in the house? Oh. Cool. Finland is the one word everyone in education agrees on. Not sure what we’re agreeing upon, but Finland seems to be synonymous with the word “good.” In my next teacher conference, I’ll just tell my students’ parents, “Oh, your child’s doing Finland, yeeaah!” “Him? He’s not doing as Finland as he could, but he’s like the US. Yes, it means he ain’t that bad, either.”

Of course, The United States has to worry about our highest needs students. Our students in poverty need wrap-around services, support, and caring environments, instead of throwing bubble sheets at them while they’re ready to pop. Sometimes, it’s like we’re Dora and Boots telling politicians “Swiper no swiping,” and every time our country races somewhere or leaves a bunch of kids behind, Swiper turns around and says, “It’s tooooo late!” [Vilson inserts Swiper voice]

But there’s hope, and I know there’s hope because we got all you beautiful people in the audience here. Applaud for yourself. Parents, thank you for chasing kids down when they’re not doing their work. Teachers, thank you for waking parents up with your morning phone calls and progress reports. Students, thank you for annoying all of us with your “Can I go to the bathroom why are we learning math aw man I don’t wanna do homework?” questions because you make us better. Thank you, all! Thank you as well to the librarians, social workers, counselors, art teachers, phys. ed. teachers, and all the other staff that people wanna keep cutting out.

Dora says, “Swiper no swiping! Swiper no swiping! Swiper no swiping!” It’s their turn to say, “Aww man!”

Lastly, we have Nancy Carlsson-Paige, education speaker, activist, teacher … and Matt Damon’s mom. You know me, I love Matt Damon. Me and him go way back to the Save Our Schools March. He offered to write a blurb for my book and it would have read, “Oh, that guy. Yes, I remember now. Cool.” We roll deep, even after we once met once.

But I have some news for him. As much as he’s lauded by some of us for his education points of view, as an actor, he missed a few subjects, so now, I have a secret for everyone:

[Cues up "I'm F*ckin Matt Damon" by Sarah Silverman]

I’m teaching Matt Damon!
[Matt Damon appears on screen to sing along] He’s teaching Matt Damon!
I’m sorry, but it’s true! I’m teaching Matt Damon!
He’s teaching Matt Damon!
I’m not imagining it’s Bill Gates, I’m teaching Matt Damon!

Teaching English, teaching math, in my classroom’s where it’s at
Got Ben Affleck on the phone and he’s playing a bat

So I’m teaching Matt Damon! He’s teaching Matt Damon!

[Ends music]

Value-add THAT! Yes, I got away with the wildest joke in edu-history!

Thank you and welcome to the Bammy Awards!

Wild applause. Standing ovations. Likes, retweets, +1s, and hollers heard round the world. A few people wonder what a Buzzfeed is. They don’t have a Klout score, as far as Vilson can tell.

Jose

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Jay-Z Smoking, Possibly a Cuban

Jay-Z Smoking, Possibly a Cuban

Last week, I wrote an open letter to educators in general, but specifically education activists, vested parties, and anyone interested in the workings of this circle. While the letter was met with plenty of praise, it had a few detractors, primarily from those who misunderstood the intent of the letter.

After a close reading and re-reading, I stand by the original letter, but shortly thereafter, I wrote a shorter version of the following as a rejoinder to those who misunderstood, because the letter applies to the last few centuries of race relations in this country, not just one particular incident.

I couldn’t care less what your affiliation is, who you represent, or what you’ve done. If the premise for why my letter has no validity is that “I wasn’t there,” then who exactly are you fighting for? It can’t be just you and your friends because I’m sure even your friends would disagree.

Furthermore, calling out a public school teacher for not being at an event you deem to be the pinnacle of your movement does not make you holier than anyone. In fact, even if I contributed less than a penny to your organization, the fact that I teach on a daily basis and throw everything into what I do for kids is EXACTLY what the movement needs. Seeking some wayward purity by demanding allegiance to your event speaks volumes about the stark difference between the movement you seek to create versus the movement that actually exists.

We can march and speak all we want, but to speak against students and teachers for not joining you at your event reeks of an elitism we can’t tolerate. Hope that helps.

In love and struggle,

Jose

P.S. – The letter wasn’t about her.

P.P.S. – “You’re an idiot, baby.” – Jay-Z by way of Bob Dylan

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Jay-Z at SXSW

I do this for my culture
To let them know what a n***a look like when a n***a in a Roadster
Show them how to move in a room full of vultures
Industry is shady, it needs to be taken over
Label owners hate me, I’m raising the status quo up …

- Jay-Z, “Izzo (H.O.V.A)

When Sabrina Stevens first sent me this video, I cursed in two languages. First, I said “Right on!” Second, I blinked really hard at the scree. Third, I shared with my friends. Fourth, I feared for her life.

Did you feel that? Sabrina’s soliloquy rings bells. I mean, this is the part where we jump off the couch and throw the popcorn on the floor.

For those of you unaware, ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) is a pseudo-non-profit that prides itself on “free-market enterprise, limited government, and federalism,” sponsoring politicians who write bills that follow their corporatist agenda. The major angst and protest we see amongst Americans all across the country start in some of the rooms ALEC occupy. Ironically, they want to crush public teachers’ unions, privatize public schools, and push universities to lean more right on the public dime.

Rumor has it they have a diagram of the school system tied above a big, boiling pot of lava.

Sabrina Stevens proves the value of real dissent. When you get up in those meetings, we know what happens. We wear our suits and ties, get our handshakes in order, bring business cards, and smile even when we didn’t catch what the other person said. We tolerate others for the sake of keeping a misinformed peace in the room, and acquiesce to the culture of the room, no matter how awful.

No one wants a “yes” man, but few know how to take the feedback when they hear a “no.”

How often do we participate in an environment where it feels like we’re the only person who has a disagreement or a grievance? How often do we push others to stay quiet, or publicly make a face when someone else disagrees in a public forum, even when we agree privately?

I’m not referring to the people who always have something negative to say. Their anchors won’t let the ship go anywhere. I’m referring to those who look forward, but have a hard time with how the captains stir the ship. Meetings like the one Sabrina stood in constantly have our publicly elected officials, or leaders as it were, following the course ALEC has set, with their map, and the funds they carry in tow.

This has serious implications for our students, too, who need a harmonious relationship between discipline and advocacy. If we define discipline as the means of dominance and subordination, I’d question why we insist on having equity at all. If we define advocacy as speaking like an adult, I’d question which adult.

We can call Sabrina’s snap at ALEC heroic. I’d rather call it a model for how I want my students to learn to speak for themselves, and not parrot others.

Gotta show kids how to move in a room full of vultures. Our industry’s shady; it needs to be taken over.

Jose, who’s not guilty, y’all got to feel me.

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AP: Jay-Z Signs Math Educator Jovan Miles to Roc Nation

October 8, 2012 Jose

Somewhere in the future … For the casual music fans, it’s easy to see why one might get confused looking at the initial Roc Nation artists. Jay-Z. J-Cole. Jay Electronica. The trifecta of J’s (and Willow Smith) have had their share of success either from the underground circuit to the international stage (in varying degrees). […]

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Short Notes: Romney Flips The Big Bird

October 7, 2012 Short Notes

A few notes: Here are a few reasons why we should save PBS. Like you need any more. [Explore] Do we still expect our favorite writers to be nice people? Or as complex as their writing? Case in point: David Foster Wallace. [New York Times] Harlem schools are seeing a high turnover rate. Beth Fertig […]

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Short Notes: “If This Is A Problem, Get The F**k Out Of The Classroom”

September 30, 2012 Short Notes

A few notes: Michael Doyle: “If you want to teach children, you have to know them. If this is a problem, get the f**k out of the classroom.” [Science teacher] Elianne Ramos (of LATISM fame) is nominated for Yahoo!’s “Women Who Shine.” Go vote. [Yahoo!] Big Daddy Kane joins Jay-Z at the Barclays Center. As […]

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