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Yo Miz! Paperback – March 31, 2015
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"...hilarious memoir--journey through the NYC public schools. Anyone who has ever taught, or had any interaction with public education should read this book. Rose caroms from well-resourced high-achieving schools to crumbling castles of chaos and neglect, begging for bathroom keys from assistant principals, commiserating with the other lost and floating teachers, & connecting with the students as she improvises in every subject from math to ESL. It's a rollicking--and enraging--picaresque romp. Imagine a Daily Show correspondent taking a job as a substitute teacher." Molly Turner, author.
"Yo Miz! should be required reading for all teachers, parents, people who want to be teachers, people who want to be parents. School administrators (in our dreams), legislators (again dreaming), let's add politicians too, why not? Pretty much everyone. It is a funny, sad, beautiful book that ultimately will make you mad as hell." Katherine Hall Page, author, Faith Fairchild mysteries.
The author's voice is punchy, comedic, and even whimsical--unsurprising for someone who stages one-woman off-Broadway shows in her spare time. Her book never devolves into an unabashed lament. In fact, her recollection is a testament to the fact that, even under the most unpropitious circumstances, learning is possible under a talented, committed teacher.
A funny, inspiring remembrance."
It's always tricky business trying to compare great talents of different eras.....think Babe Ruth-Barry Bonds, Mark Twain-Will Rogers, John Huston-Dustin Hoffman. With that said, this age-old observer of the NYC schools scene has no problem going out on the proverbial limb in arguing that however eloquent and entertaining Bel Kaufman was in her 1965 classic "Up the Down Staircase," Rose's "Yo Miz" dives so deeply and precipitously into the agonizing world of dysfunctional schools that, in comparison, UTDS ends up looking more like "Tea and Sympathy." Harold Saltzman, author "Just A Teacher"
Elizabeth Rose is a rotating substitute teacher in NYC. Having lost her permanent teaching position, she rotates to 25 schools in all parts of the city. Elizabeth takes everything in stride: grouchy secretaries, bossy principals, rediculous assignments -- she just handles them. She has a hysterical sense of humor - tears will roll down your face, a huge heart - you'll wish she taught your child. Oh & yes she wrote and was starring in an off Broadway play. @rhondareads
From the Author
When I was ejected from my home school after 10 productive years there as a teaching artist, then teacher and raising over $300,000 for technology, I was informed that the NYC DOE planned to send me (and 2500 other teachers) to a different school every week to be a substitute teacher. At first, I thought I'd resign and go back to my freelance days as a performing songwriter, musician and coach. However, during the second week of the school year I was sitting in a teachers' lounge (at Baruch College Campus High School) when I heard a voice inside my head saying, "If you don't stick around and write this story, you're wack."
Think about it. I'm a writer. The NYC DOE is going to send me to a new school each week. Not as an evaluator or fund raiser or in any prestigious position...but as a "lowly" substitute teacher. Nobody will know that I'm writing about it. Everyone will just behave "normally" - whatever that means. So I can't leave. I have been given an assignment by the cosmos: go there and write about it.
So I did. Herewith, "Yo Miz!"
As George Orwell said, "In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
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WHO SHOULD READ THIS BOOK:
- YOU LOVE AUTHORS WHO SHOW, DON'T TELL: Elizabeth Rose (the author) is a master at following the age-old advice that English teachers drill into their student's brains: SHOW, DON'T TELL. She almost never steps back and explicitly talks about the challenges (and solutions) to NYC's public school system. Instead, she feeds you anecdote after anecdote, as you follow a day-in-the-life of a substitute teacher who is tossed around 25 different schools in one year. If you don't like authors trying to directly convince you or preach to you, and if you like to just hear the evidence and decide things for yourself, then this book is for you.
- YOU LIKE BOOKS WITH HUMOR. Be prepared to laugh, smile, and giggle. Rose is an Off-Broadway performer with a strong NYC voice and attitude. Enjoy it.
- YOU WANT MANY REAL LIFE ANECDOTES. This entire book is jam packed with anecdotes! You'll read about a teenager who murdered a relative, kids who don't know what continent the USA is in, and Muslim children whose first year at school is right after September 11, 2001. You'll see fights in the library, rude students, and petty administrators. Rose rarely reflects on each story or analyzes them deeply; she leaves that for you, the reader, to do.
- YOU WANT A GREAT WORD TO DOLLAR RATIO. This is a long book (421 pages). For $6 on the Kindle, you'll have 8+ hours of reading enjoyment for just $6. But it's important that you want a ton of diary-type stories and not an analytical review of NYC schools.
WHO SHOULD NOT READ THIS BOOK:
- YOU WANT A COMPREHENSIVE ANALYSIS OF THE NYC SCHOOL SYSTEM. You won't get it. Yes, Rose taught in 25 schools and she describes them through her encounters. But if you want to know stats like dropout rates, forget it. If you want read an extensive debate about the NYC curriculum, it's not here.
- YOU WANT A SERIOUS BOOK WITHOUT SWEARING. Although it's serious topic, Rose has a lighthearted style of writing. Students swear too - and often.
- YOU WANT A BOOK ABOUT AMERICA'S SCHOOL SYSTEM. No, this is just about the NYC school system.
CONCLUSION: For its genre (diary-style memoir), Yo Miz! is fantastic. Rose illustrates the state of NYC schools through her wild year in 25 of them. She never preaches to you, nor pontificates about solutions. She just tells it like it is by taking you in the classroom and seeing it. Although Rose is peppy in her writing, it's depressing how bad NYC's public schools are. The non-fiction, practical guy in me would have liked her to use the last chapter to reflect more broadly on NYC school system and what can be done to fix it. However, I guess she felt that's another story for another book.
Elizabeth Rose is a voice to be reckoned with and we need more educators like Yo Miz speaking out!
An entertaining read if you ignore the picture she paints. And after the first quarter of it, the rest is just more of the same.
Hal Urban, Author of LESSONS FROM THE CLASSROOM: 20 THINGS GOOD TEACHERS DO