Day at the Philadelphia Museum of Art – Mexican Modernism Exhibit!



Dear Commons Community,

Yesterday, Elaine and I spent the day in Philadelphia at the   “Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism, 1910-1950” Exhibit.”  On display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, this is one of the great shows of the year.  For those of us who like Mexican Modernism, the 200 pieces are a must see. It shows the evolution of both the modern art style and subject matter during the first half of the 20th century.  All of the great Mexican modernists are on display.  The Sequeiros room at the end of the exhibit was an incredible sample of his talent and work.

Below is an excerpt from the Exhibit’s website:.

“From the start of the Mexican Revolution in 1910 to the aftermath of World War II, artists and intellectuals in Mexico were at the center of a great debate about their country’s destiny. The exhibition tells the story of this exhilarating period through a remarkable range of images, from masterpieces by Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Frida Kahlo, and Rufino Tamayo to transfixing works by their contemporaries Dr. Atl, María Izquierdo, Roberto Montenegro, Carlos Mérida, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, and many others.

Paint the Revolution offers a deep look at the forces that shaped modern art in Mexico, the progress of which was closely watched around the world. The exhibition takes its name from an impassioned essay by American novelist John Dos Passos, who saw Mexico’s revolutionary murals during a visit to Mexico City in 1926–27.

In addition to featuring portable murals, easel paintings, photographs, prints, books, and broadsheets, the exhibition displays murals by the Tres grandes (Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros) in digital form.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art presents this landmark exhibition in partnership with the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Drawn from US and Mexican collections, it is the most comprehensive exhibition of Mexican modernism to be shown in the United States in more than seven decades.”

Congratulations to Matthew Affron, the Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art at the Philadelphia Museum, for bringing this work to the United States.




Buffalo Board of Education Calls on Carl Paladino to Resign!

Dear Commons Community,

The Buffalo Board of Education voted 6-2 yesterday to issue an ultimatum to Board member Carl Paladino who has been under national fire for his racially charged comments about President and Mrs. Obama: Resign within 24 hours, or the Board will petition the state to remove you. As reported by several media outlets:

Carl Paladino was Donald Trump’s New York campaign co-chair and currently sits on the nine-member Buffalo school board. In recent days, he’s faced intense criticism for his answers to a local newspaper’s questionnaire about what he would like to see happen in 2017. Paladino said he’d like President Barack Obama to die from mad cow disease and called first lady Michelle Obama a man who should go live with gorillas. 

The residents of Buffalo are sick of Paladino making their city look bad and  mobilized yeserday, first for a protest downtown in Niagara Square and later at a special school board meeting at city hall.

The board met to consider a fiery resolution that said if Paladino did not resign within 24 hours, they would petition New York Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia to remove him. Elia has so far declined to weigh in on the controversy.

The resolution, introduced by board member Hope Jay, called Paladino’s remarks about the Obamas “unambiguously racist, morally repugnant, flagrantly disrespectful, inflammatory and inexcusable.” It also said they reflected negatively on “the Buffalo Board of Education, the City of Buffalo and its leadership and its citizens, the State of New York, and every decent human being in America and abroad who has been shocked and offended by his words.”

When Jay read her resolution Thursday at the school board’s special session, the crowd gave her an enthusiastic standing ovation. 

Two board members ― Patti Pierce and Larry Quinn, who are considered Paladino allies ― did not support the resolution. They said they would like to see Paladino apologize to the students of the district rather than resign.

Paladino has got to go!


Debbie Reynolds Dead – Follows Daughter Carrie!


Dear Commons Community,

Just one day after the death of her daughter, actress Carrie Fisher, Hollywood icon Debbie Reynolds died yesterday. She was 84. 

Todd Fisher, her son, confirmed his mother’s death to Variety.

TMZ reported that Reynolds was hospitalized Wednesday for a medical emergency. She reportedly suffered a stroke at Todd’s Beverly Hills home.

“She wanted to be with Carrie,” Todd told Variety.



NYPD New Policy: Officers Will be Allowed to Wear Turbans and Have Beards!

Dear Commons Community,

The New York City Police Department announced yesterday that it would allow its officers to were beards and turbans. The new policy would be especially helpful in recruiting new officers such as Sikhs whose religion requires them to have beards and turbans.  As reported by the New York Times:

“The decision puts the nation’s largest police force among a small group of law enforcement agencies like those of Washington, D.C., and Riverside, Calif., as well as the United States Army, that allow members to have facial hair and wear turbans, often as a religious exception. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has allowed turbans and beards since the 1990s, and began permitting hijabs this year.

According to the patrol guide of the New York Police Department, officers are prohibited from having beards and nonuniform headdresses, but exceptions can be made for officers who receive a medical or religious accommodation to wear facial hair up to one millimeter in length, essentially stubble.

While the department has become more diverse, many activists say the [previous] policies have hurt the agency’s goal of being more inclusive. And the department agreed to review its beard guidelines after a Muslim officer filed a federal class-action lawsuit in June. That case is pending.

Under the revised policy, Commissioner James P. O’Neill said on Wednesday, officers who are granted a religious accommodation from the department’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office will be allowed to have beards that extend up to one-half inch from the face. The officers may also wear turbans [that have to be blue] — with a hat shield it affixed to it — in place of the traditional police cap.

“We’re making this change to make sure that we allow everybody in New York City that wants to apply and have the opportunity to work in the greatest police department in the nation, to make sure we give them that opportunity,” the commissioner said.

Groups representing Sikh and Muslim officers within the department said members who were previously granted religious accommodations are already allowed to take advantage of the revised policies, which are expected to be finalized next month. The Muslim Officers Society and the newer Sikh Officers Association, which have more than 1,100 members combined, had been pushing for the changes.”

Good move by the NYPD!


Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) Died Yesterday from Heart Attack!



Dear Commons Community,

It was very sad news yesterday when the world learned of Carrie Fisher’s death.  My family (three generations) are fans of Star Wars.  My children, Michael and Dawn Marie,  growing up in the 1970s-80s could not wait for the latest installments.  They went to Halloween parties dressed as C-3PO and R2-D2.  Carrie Fisher, as Princess Leia in the earlier movies, transformed what was normally a hero’s role reserved for a male actor to a tough-minded heroine.  Last week with my daughter and grandchildren visiting from Seattle, we all went to see the latest Star Wars movie – Rogue 1. It was special that Fisher as Princess Leia was in the last scene and had the last line.  Here is an excerpt from her obituary.

Carrie Fisher, the actress, author and screenwriter who brought a rare combination of nerve, grit and hopefulness to her most indelible role, as Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” movie franchise, died on Tuesday morning. She was 60.

A family spokesman, Simon Halls, said Ms. Fisher died at 8:55 a.m. She had a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles on Friday and had been hospitalized in Los Angeles.

After her “Star Wars” success, Ms. Fisher, the daughter of the pop singer Eddie Fisher and the actress Debbie Reynolds, went on to use her perch among Hollywood royalty to offer wry commentary in her books on the paradoxes and absurdities of the entertainment industry.

“Star Wars,” released in 1977, turned her overnight into an international movie star. The film, written and directed by George Lucas, traveled around the world, breaking box-office records. It proved to be the first installment of a blockbuster series whose vivid, even preposterous characters — living “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” as the opening sequence announced — became pop culture legends and the progenitors of a merchandising bonanza.

Ms. Fisher established Princess Leia as a damsel who could very much deal with her own distress, whether facing down the villainy of the dreaded Darth Vader or the romantic interests of the roguish smuggler Han Solo.

Wielding blaster pistols, piloting futuristic vehicles and, to her occasional chagrin, wearing strange hairdos and a revealing metal bikini, she reprised the role in three more films — “The Empire Strikes Back” in 1980, “Return of the Jedi” in 1983 and, 32 years later, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” by which time Leia had become a hard-bitten general.

Lucasfilm said on Tuesday that Ms. Fisher had completed her work in an as-yet-untitled eighth episode of the main “Star Wars” saga, which is scheduled to be released in December 2017.

Winning the admiration of countless fans, Ms. Fisher never played Leia as helpless. She had the toughness to escape the clutches of the monstrous gangster Jabba the Hutt and the tenderness to tell Han Solo, as he is about to be frozen in carbonite, “I love you.” (Solo, played by Harrison Ford, caddishly replies, “I know.”)

Offscreen, Ms. Fisher was open about her diagnosis of bipolar disorder. She gave her dueling dispositions the nicknames Roy (“the wild ride of a mood,” she said) and Pam (“who stands on the shore and sobs”). She channeled her struggles with depression and substance abuse into fiercely comic works, including the semiautobiographical novel “Postcards From the Edge” and the one-woman show “Wishful Drinking,” which she turned into a memoir.

For all the attention she received for playing Princess Leia, Ms. Fisher enjoyed poking wicked fun at the character, as well as at the fantastical “Star Wars” universe. “Who wears that much lip gloss into battle?” she asked in a recent memoir, “The Princess Diarist.”

Having seen fame’s light and dark sides, Ms. Fisher did not take it too seriously, or consider it an enduring commodity.”

The force was with her!




CUNY Graduate Center Urban Education Graduate – Lee Gabay:  New Yorker of the Year!


Dear Commons Community,

It is with great pride that I congratulate, Lee Gabay, for being a New York Times’ New Yorker of the Year.  Lee graduated our PhD Program in Urban Education in 2013.  His dissertation completed under the guidance of David Brotherton was entitled, I hope I don’t see you tomorrow: A Phenomenological Ethnography of the Passages Academy School Program. 

Lee was a special student who cared deeply about a lot of things but especially his students at Passages Academy,  a NYC public school that provides education, social, and emotional services to students in juvenile detention.  I had conversations with him about his young charges and it was cleared he was completely devoted to them and most sensitive to their difficult life situations.

I also have had the pleasure of attending Knick and Yankee games with Lee, his father and his wife Chrystal.  He has also been blessed with a beautiful daughter, China Grace.

Below is the New York Times piece on Lee’s award.

Congratulations again, Lee!



Lee Gabay, an Inspiring New Yorker!

New York Times, December 27, 2016


“Before we go on, I want to congratulate you on finishing a book,” Lee Gabay told his students.

“That’s a beautiful thing you did today.”

Mr. Gabay, an English teacher at Brooklyn Democracy Academy in the Brownsville section of the borough, was finishing a lecture on John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.”

Also required reading in his class: “Holler if You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur,” by Michael Eric Dyson, about the history of hip-hop and race relations in the United States.

As far as teachers go, Mr. Gabay, 47, who has a Ph.D. in urban education, is somewhat unconventional.

“I loved to learn, but I hated school, always,” Mr. Gabay said, describing himself as having been a class clown. “I think that has inspired what I’ve become, what I wanted to do and the kind of classroom I wanted to create.”

He rides a motorcycle to school. He is fascinated with sneaker culture. He is a vocal Knicks fan.

He sits with students during lunchtime to talk about music. And he winces at the thought of being called Dr. Gabay. Some students simply call him “G.”

A majority of his career has been spent in unconventional settings, teaching literature to students who had been locked up.

While an undergraduate at the University of Southern California, he worked at a group home for children who had been incarcerated. He went on to receive a master’s degree in education from New York University and his doctorate from the City University of New York, where he focused on juvenile offenders.

This led him to teach for more than a decade at Passages Academy, a juvenile detention school in the city, and at his current post at Brooklyn Democracy Academy, a transfer school for under-credited students whose education had been interrupted.

During his four years at the academy, Mr. Gabay has broadened his role to become like an older brother to these struggling teenagers — many of whom have spent time in foster care or in jail. He is as adamant about nurturing them socially and emotionally as he is about preparing them to take tests.

His motto: “Students need to know how much you care before they care how much you know.”

“Brownsville has the worst schools in the city, the worst health care, the most homicides, the worst food — there are no Starbucks here — and I want to give them access to all the good things that I was blessed to have,” said Mr. Gabay, who was born on the Lower East Side and grew up in Great Neck on Long Island.

Mr. Gabay at the school: “Students need to know how much you care before they care how much you know.” 

He networks relentlessly to open doors for his students.

He brought in a spoken-word performer who inspired one young man to travel to Africa with the artist to study. After Mr. Gabay invited an Oscar-nominee, Jesse Eisenberg, to the school, the actor mentored a student who was passionate about the entertainment industry. When John Wallace, the former Knicks player, came to class, another student ended up with a job.

“People at school are like, ‘Gabay, how do you do that?’ And I’m like, ‘It’s simple. Just reach out and say thank you,’ ” he said. “It’s not a strategic thing; I think it comes from someone’s heart.”

It is not quite the same as the work done by large nonprofits; Mr. Gabay says he is much more informal, focusing on the little things — small deeds that can inspire one person, and have the potential to turn a life around.

“When you go places, you’re always thinking: ‘What can benefit the students? What can benefit the school?’ ” he said.

“You don’t have an off switch when you teach.”


President Obama Says He Would Have Won the Presidential Election!

Dear Commons Community,

President Barack Obama in an interview released yesterday with David Axelrod, indicated he would have won had he run for president in 2016.   As reported by the New York Times:

 “I’m confident that if I — if I had run again and articulated it, I think I could’ve mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it,” Mr. Obama said on Mr. Axelrod’s podcast, “The Axe Files,” referring to his message of inclusion and helping middle-class Americans.

“I know that in conversations that I’ve had with people around the country, even some people who disagreed with me, they would say the vision, the direction that you point towards is the right one,” he said.

Several hours after the interview was posted, Mr. Trump responded on Twitter.

“President Obama said that he thinks he would have won against me,” Mr. Trump said. “He should say that but I say NO WAY! — jobs leaving, ISIS, OCare, etc.”

Mr. Obama praised the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, saying that she performed well under difficult circumstances and that there “was a double standard with her.”

“For whatever reason, there’s been a longstanding difficulty in her relationship with the press that meant her flaws were wildly amplified,” he said.

But Mr. Obama also said she campaigned too cautiously.”

I tend to agree with President Obama especially with respect to  Clinton campaigning too cautiously.  This was especially true in the latter months  of the campaign after the Democratic National Convention.  It reminded me a lot of the Al Gore campaign in 2000.




City College’s (CUNY)  IN2NYC Program Featured in Times Article!

Dear Commons Community,

City College’s IN2NYC, a program created for international entrepreneurs in cooperation with New York City’s Economic Development Corporation, has begun offering 18-month visas to individuals seeking to established businesses in this country.  Here is an excerpt from a New York Times article published this morning:

“Gabor Tankovics was checking off the boxes for his New York City tech start-up this past spring. Investors. Advisers. Users. But one box was still noticeably blank: Visa.

“I really felt like, ‘O.K., I am at the stage where things are starting to work out,’” said Mr. Tankovics, 33, a native of Hungary. “At the same time, I might have to leave.”

But then he heard about a new option, a program for international entrepreneurs created this year by New York City’s Economic Development Corporation with the City College of New York. By working at one of CUNY’s campuses, founders of start-up companies can obtain an 18-month United States visa to establish their businesses — with the aim of creating jobs and training aspiring innovators.

In October, Mr. Tankovics became the first of two visa recipients out of 144 applicants for the program, the International Innovators Initiative, known as IN2NYC.

“This was absolutely designed for me,” Mr. Tankovics said in an empty and echoing co-working space at LaGuardia Community College’s NYDesigns start-up studio. By next year, it will house Mr. Tankovics’s three-employee company, Dartboard, a web application to help manage student loans.

The IN2NYC program selected Namisha Bahl, 26, of India, as its second participant. Ms. Bahl is a founder of Mogul, a website for women around the world that has 25 New York-based employees, she said, but is hoping to double in size by next year. Ms. Bahl, the company’s marketing director, will begin mentoring students at City College of New York’s Zahn Innovation Center, a start-up incubator promoting diversity in the tech world, next year.

By March, she and Mr. Tankovics will be joined by as many as 20 more participants in the program, working at five schools in the CUNY system, according to IN2NYC officials.

Ms. Bahl had been out of options. She had earned her master’s degree in integrated marketing from New York University in 2015 and twice applied for an H-1B visa. The visas, which go to skilled workers, are given out by lottery each year. The number of recipients is capped at 85,000, but more than three times as many people apply each year. And self-employed entrepreneurs are not eligible.

But in 2000, Congress allowed for exemptions to the cap, including people working at institutions of higher education or affiliated nonprofits.

“It is an amazing and crucial opportunity,” Ms. Bahl said in an email. “I would not have been able to expand Mogul further without work authorization. 

Or, as the program’s consulting lawyer, Peter F. Asaad, put it: “Without a program like this, she certainly would be out in the cold.”

Because of guidelines set by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, IN2NYC applicants must be sponsored for the visa by their company’s board of directors, all of whom are American citizens or permanent residents. The board members have the power to determine how much the applicant earns and other terms of employment.

The program does not just benefit the visa holder, its creators say.

“It’s not just about one person, but it’s about the larger ripple effect,” said Maria Torres-Springer, the president of New York City’s development corporation. “Both in terms of job creation for that company, and what it also means for the students and faculty, the local schools with which they partner.”

She added: “It’s an entire ecosystem.”

Congratulations to CCNY and the New York City Economic Development Corporation.



Christmas with the Family!


Dear Commons Community,

Elaine and I are spending Christmas with our family.  Our son, Michael, his wife Regina, and grandchildren, Isabella and Gracie, live in Putnam County, New York.  Our daughter, Dawn Marie, her husband Bruce, and grandchildren, Michael and Ali, live in Seattle and  are staying here with us.  Here are photos of what we have been doing for the past several days.

Happy Holidays to You and Yours!




Trimming the Christmas Tree



At Cats



At Rockeller Center



At Ted Montana’s Steakhouse on 51st Street

Article:  Planning for Online Education: A Systems Model!

Dear Commons Community,

I was just notified by Jill Buban, Senior Director of Research & Innovation at the Online Learning Consortium, that my article, “Planning for Online Education: A Systems Model”, was the Online Learning Journal‘s 6th most downloaded article in 2016.  Below is the abstract.  If you are interested in this topic, it will be featured this week at the OLC website.  You can access and download it at: 



Abstract:  Planning for Online Education: A Systems Model

The purpose of this article is to revisit the basic principles of technology planning as applied to online education initiatives. While not meant to be an exhaustive treatment of the topic, the article is timely because many colleges and universities are considering the development and expansion of online education as part of their planning activities. The article suggests that purposeful planning is key to the successful implementation of online education as opposed to disruption or radical transformation that may be damaging to an institution’s culture.