Saturday, November 6, 2010

This School Year

Hey Everybody,

First, I would like to apologize for the lack of communication coming from the New York City Student Union this year. We're still meeting every monday at the DC 37 building and we have been discussing where to take the union this year. If anyone would like to come by, feel free! or send me an e-mail at

Thanks for your patience, and expect to see more of us in the coming months

Henry Pines

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Today, in front of an audience of over 1000 people, New York City Student Union members Lucas Johnson, Timothy Ling, and Henry Pines (me) spoke to protest Mass Transit cuts. We shared the stage with such luminaries as Rev. Jesse Jackson and wowed the crowd. We showed people that students are involved and that we care about citywide issues.

The New York City Student Union stood in solidarity with the Transit Workers Union and we made a Huge impact. This is because of all of the hard work that we have put into working with the Keep America Moving Coalition. these opportunities came as a result of going to meeting on friday afternoons and saturday mornings. It was a really special event, but keep your eyes out for us in the coming weeks!

Monday, May 3, 2010


I want to remind everyone that the big Mass Transit rally is TOMORROW, meet up by Penn Station at 4 and be ready to stand with the TWU in fighting general MTA cuts.

Its important that everyone who can comes to this rally,because we need to show those in power that the city is presenting a united front against cuts. We can't let those in power divide our movement by playing the students against the workers and vice versa, we won't accomplish anything that way. If the people of New York City stand together we can fight these outrageous cuts to our vital services.

this rally presents us with the opportunity to fight for ourselves on a big stage, so please come out and support Mass Transit

See you there!
Henry Pines

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fight the MTA Cuts Rally!

Hi, Everybody,
This is Henry, and it is my first time posting blog on the New York City Students blog. I just wanted to inform everybody about a rally that is going to happen on May 4th at Penn Station at 4pm. Lucas Johnson and I have been working with members of the Keep America Moving coalition and many of its allied organizations to put together this rally. It would be wonderful if everyone could show up on behalf everybody in the New York education community--This means parents, teachers, administrators, and students should come out to pressure Albany and Congress to take action to save mass transit in America. We need as many people as we can get to come and show politicians that we are serious about saving our transit system.
Hope to see you there!
Henry Pines

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fighting the bake sale ban!!!

Please join students from around the city to protest the new regulation on bake sales on Friday, Nov. 13 from 2-6 p.m. in front of City Hall. The protest is being organized by seniors from LaGuardia High School, and we invite anyone and everyone to come. (find the protest on facebook:

Department of Education regulation A-812 states that only approved foods can be sold in schools until 6 p.m., and no outside food can be sold during mealtimes. The regulation is so restrictive it is commonly referred to as a ban on bake sales. As Jennifer Medina said in a recent New York Times article, “There will be no cupcakes. No chocolate cake and no carrot cake. According to According to New York City’s latest regulations, not even zucchini bread makes the cut.”

Since the bake sale ban applies to lunch periods, and LaGuardia has five lunch periods during the day, it is virtually impossible for students to buy something. In the past, LaGuardia clubs and teams, along with those of many other high schools, have relied on bake sales for close to 100% of their fundraising. Students were not forewarned about this ban so that bake sales could be phased out over time while other methods of fundraising were introduced. As reported in the Village Voice, two high school seniors are organizing a petition against the ban. There are also Facebook groups being created in protest.

It’s not just students who are protesting the regulation. The Village Voice quotes Beacon English teacher Sarah Fink: “There is no budget for after-school programs. Bake sales are pure profit. The ingredients are cheap, and the students can do it themselves.”

The Department of Education does not provide the necessary funding for the clubs, teams, and extracurriculars which enrich schools and students’ lives. Selective colleges and are asking for increasing involvement in these activities. If the DOE provided adequate funding, these regulations would be acceptable; as it stands, they are not.

I hope to see you on Friday, Nov. 13. The event can be found on Facebook (you must have a Facebook account to view it). You can also email me or post a comment with any questions.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Test-Prep Culture Strikes Again!

Break out the popcorn- it’s movie time for AP classes around the city! It’s common knowledge that after the AP test, AP classes become a total joke. At LaGuardia, stories are passed down about the dumbest, most irrelevant movies teachers have shown for the last month of school, or which AP teachers expect you to actually come to their class after the test. It would be a lie to say that some part of me does not enjoy this payoff for hard work, but I do think it reflects poorly on the test-prep culture that we have entered.

Though they are test-prep courses by nature, I find that AP classes still teach you information that will be useful for life. Unlike most standardized tests and the SATs, I find the AP tests to be measures of real learning and understanding, not the ability to test well. Because of this, learning how to write essays or speak spanish for the AP test are skills that I will need forever. But in these last few weeks of school, when all learning in AP classes ends abruptly, I wonder if my teachers feel the same way. If the AP skills are life skills, why do teachers stop teaching the day after the test?

It seems to me that when the focus of a year is a test, teacher’s do not push themselves to go beyond. A month of school is a lot of time to waste just because “we took the test.” There are a number of skills we could be learning in this time to help us with any given subject in the future. The AP Composition test is over, but I have hundreds of essays left to write in my life, and other ways in which I will need to use the skill of being able to organize and write out my thoughts. There are hundreds of good books left to read and analyze. There are hundreds of countries I plan to visit where I will need my spanish skills. Additionally, the time after the test should be prized teaching time. To me, it’s every good teacher’s dream: with no test at the end, teachers can teach whatever they want, however they want, and at whatever pace the students need. Students and teachers complain a lot about the limits of standardized testing, but then so many do not take advantage of the freedom that comes when the test is over. I see this as a reflection of the era of extreme testing we have entered. I would encourage AP teachers and students alike to take advantage of this time of looseness to teach and learn in new, interesting and creative ways.

Budget cuts hit LaGuardia juniors

Last week, a number of LaGuardia juniors found out that their math tracks are being abruptly ended. As a junior in trigonometry this year, I was expected to take pre-calculus in the fall, and take the Math B Regents Exam in January. Now, because of budget cuts, seniors will not be allowed to take pre-calc. To learn the semester of content and prepare for the Math B exam, tutoring will be offered over the summer. This is not really an option for people (like me) who have summer jobs. Also, the only math classes being offered to seniors next year are Advanced Placement classes. For the juniors are in pre-calc this year, the situation may not be much better. Calculus may be cut next year, too, giving these juniors no way to complete their math track. A letter is being sent to all colleges explaining the sudden death of advanced, non-AP math at LaGuardia.

When I expressed my concern, the assistant principal of math told me, “Write to the Chancellor and Mayor and ask them to stop taking our money away in the middle of the year.” I told her I already had, and that was the end of the conversation. But this conversation is far from over. My school has been forced to make hard choices because of circumstances outside its control. LaGuardia has done its best to maintain its unique dual mission to provide students with both good arts and academic educations. But no school should have to make the choice to end a curriculum like math mid-year, without preparation or prior warning.

If, as the Chancellor and the Mayor insist, cuts must be made, they should not come from the classroom and force schools to make decisions like this one.
Perhaps the cuts could come from the testing budget. It seems that tests are multiplying faster than rabbits; kids as young as kindergarten are now being tested. Perhaps the needed savings can come from the production and administration of school Progress Reports, which are often inaccurate representations of a school.

The pattern is scary. Mid-year crunches are resulting in the loss of teachers and classes, which are the last things that ought to be taken away. If “students” were a budget item, we’d probably be the next to go.