A little about Mario Depeine, Sr.

As an educator I get the opportunity to get a small glimpse of how our society is shaping up. Children come into the classroom with all types of perspectives. A lot of the perspectives are a result of their environment. Some of those perspectives reflect the home life or lack of. Some reflect the street life and some just reflect the media that the children are exposed to.

Middle School children are just starting out in life. You see how their characters and personalities are shaping up. Many can be molded or adjusted easily others are a lot more resistant to change depending on their circumstance.

I work in an urban district. While there I see many interesting and at times disheartening things. Hopefully my experiences as an educator can shed some light on what we can do to better prepare our children for the future.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My statement about Congress' ineffectiveness

I woke up on October 25, 2011 and felt the urge to send a “message” to Congress. That morning, I woke up at 5:45 and wrote most of the song at the ironing board by 6:00. Then I got ready for work. Kenny Simmons, formerly of the Commodores, said, "I like this." I went back to GarageBand and made a few adjustments. By December 13, 2011 (4:57 PM) I had received the finished CD from Disc Makers.

I am a full time Science teacher in the Newark Public Schools (New Jersey); sometimes I am referred to as “Mr. D.” I graduated from Princeton University (same graduating class as Michelle Obama) with a degree in Social and Personality Psychology. I spent my first eight years in Haiti. In March 2010, I visited Haiti to help with some relief efforts and to document the devastation that occurred as a result of the January 12th Earthquake. I have addressed some news issues with my work on CNN iReport. Some of my videos were featured on CNN’s TV broadcasts. I have done some writing on Helium.com as well as Yahoo Associated Content.

I am a firm believer that everybody counts. I equate the “voices” of each American to a dripping faucet. Each “drop” by itself seems insignificant but if you have a bucket collecting each one, after a while the bucket will fill up and eventually overflow. I wrote this song because of the collective “voices” or “drops” that I heard on the news programs; the “voices” that I heard in the newspapers and in the streets. I heard so many people saying “Why aren’t they doing what will help us?” So the question for me became; “How could they sit there? How could they sit there doing nothing when so many are suffering?”

I want to send a very loud and clear message to all of our elected representatives and remind them that the American Government is a Government of the people, for the people and by the people. Individuals vote, not corporations! I would like this song to get maximum exposure through radio, the internet, television, etc.. I hope that many will download this song, play it and sing it everywhere. I hope it is played publicly in Washington, DC so that when members of Congress hear it, they will start to develop a conscience and a memory that tells them that they “owe it to the people” to do what will help Americans. American “voices” need to be heard!

The song is available on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/how-do-you-sit-there/id490379639?i=490379889&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

CD Baby: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/mariodepeinesr

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DbskbOJJ4k

Here is my website: http://www.depeinemediaworks.com/

Visit me on Facebook: Mario Depeine,Sr. (How Do You Sit There?)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

T-Mobile, where you used to "Get MORE!"

T-Mobile should get into the banking industry. While the banks are finding ways to strip consumers (very few have the means these days) of any money that they may acquire, T-Mobile seems to be following their lead.

Most banks now use our money and give us "not a dime" in return (interest). They raise our credit card rates to rates higher than "loan sharks" - we're talking rates as high as 25 to 30%. Now it is popular for them to charge 12 to $20 a month because of minimum balance requirements! Where, in this economy, will most people ever come close to maintaining these minimum ($1500 or more) requirements?

Well, now T-Mobile seems to be moving in the direction of the banks. Here is how they are doing it. If your bill is not paid on the expected due date, you get a text message that reads: "Your bill is past due & payment is required to avoid suspension & $20 restore fee per line." $20!!! Wow, with two lines you are charged $40, three lines $60. I pity the customer who has a family plan and has difficulty making the "deadline." Speaking of "deadline," they do even specify the "suspension" date or when you need to pay the bill by to avoid paying the fee. So you can get two warnings and then, BAM. Your monthly bill can be increased by 33, 67 or even 100%. A family plan subscriber can easily double their bill with this new "penalty."

I wonder how many extra millions of dollars per month T-Mobile is making in this very bad economy. Yes, the cell phone is still an optional tool, but increasingly, that is what is being used for most communication these days.

So T-Mobile, is not the company where you "get more." In the past, I did not feel this way, I thought they were great at customer service and making the customer feel important and valued. Their slogan has been changed from "get more" and I have a better understanding of why that is the case. I see them as a company who wants to "take more" from its customers. In this very bad economy, T-mobile is "getting more" from the consumer when it should be looking at how to have even better customer relations by being a little more "reasonable" and sensitive.

What a great thing it is when you work with a business, company or provider which understands the state of the economy and "works" with its customers. They will have that customer for life! That customer will feel like they are working with an organization that has a "heart" and values the business relationship. In T-Mobile's case, it seems that its all about the MONEY!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

BACK TO SCHOOL TIPS for children and parents, a teacher's perspective

Summer vacation is over. Those can be some very sobering and haunting words for a student and at times, a teacher. It means back to work and back to "discipline." Here are some tips for parents who want to help their children to have a constructive, productive and disciplined school year.

Parents, it is your role to prepare your child to be the best "learner" that he or she can be. What you say or don't say to your child will make all the difference in whether he or she is a great or poor student. Your continued input and influence is so critical to your child's success. Don't ever underestimate that. You are a driving force for your child's success. My mother, almost daily, reminded us that "You have to get your education, no one can take it from you once you get it." It was true. She made a tremendous impact on all of us. She is now gone, but her words will always live on in our hearts and in our thoughts.

Quick tips:

1. AUTHORITY: As a parent, decide what your view is of authority. If it is a "negative" one, figure out how you can reconcile them so that you can help your child to "respect" the authorities (teachers, principal, etc.) in his or her life. Without a healthy view of authority, your child will automatically "shut out" those who are there to direct him / her while in school.

2. BE THE ADULT: Don't be so quick to "side" with your child when a conflict comes up. You are the adult. You must remember that children (you were one) have a very limited perspective on life. They would like to have fun, shake off responsibility, and "get away with things." If the teacher calls you in for a conference, it must be important. Try to understand from the teacher, what the issue is. It takes time out of the teacher's schedule to meet with parents, they don't do it "just for fun or to get at a child" as some children try to tell their parents.

3. CONFLICT: If you have a "problem" with the teacher, try to discuss and resolve it as adult to adult. Avoid having your child in the middle of a dispute. That type of situation will just put an unnecessary "burden" on your child. Let your child be the child, you deal with the adult issues. This will help your child to be able to go back to the class and still "learn" from the teacher. Regardless of personality or style issues, the teacher still has a lot to offer your child.

4. BE PRESENT: Make regular (every other week or once a month) visits to the school. Stop in or volunteer to help in the school. Send an email to the teachers and encourage them to send you a "note" if there are any concerns or victories to be shared about your child. Most teachers are there teaching, because, they want to make a difference. They do want your child to succeed.

5. COMMUNICATION: Make it a habit to let your child talk about their school day. Don't just ask questions, let them talk about what was good, funny, unpleasant about the day. Create an atmosphere that lets them feel that it is safe to talk about whatever is happening at school. This way, when other things come up you can have a broader picture of what your child may be experiencing.

6. GADGETS AND GAMES: Decide the amount of time that you will let your child play games, watch television, text, be on the phone, be on Facebook, etc. Wow, I'm exhausted just writing these things down. It must be exhausting trying to keep track of all these things. Remember, you are the adult, you are the parent. You have to set boundaries for your child / children. If you don't, your child will be "lost" in those things and education or learning will be the furthest thing from their minds.

7. GET HELP: Talk to and spend time with people who are getting victories with their children. If you know a parent who has children who are focused and get their work done at school, get input from that parent. It could only help. Speak to "veteran" parents. Learn some good "old fashion" values from the wise parents from "back in the day." It can only help. The point is, talk to people who are WHERE YOU WANT TO BE as a parent. They are good resources. Ask your teachers, especially those who are parents they will tell you what can make a difference. Read a book on parenting. The point is, ask for help!

8. BEDTIME: Set an appropriate bedtime for your child. They need at leas 8 hours of sleep. Don't let them stay up all night doing WHATEVER and then expect them to function at school the next day.

9. HOMEWORK: Help them do the work. If you have difficulty helping them, get help. If you find the homework is overwhelming your child, get help. Talk to their teacher / principal. The point is, do something.

10. INSPIRE: Find ways to inspire your child. Help your child dream of possibilities for the future. Help your child see the benefits of being smart, being intelligent, being a leader. Help your child to develop self-awareness and worth. Help your child understand that as an individual, he or she can make a HUGE DIFFERENCE in the world. Look at videos, read books about people who made a difference in the world. Because, in school, too often, their peers treat them as "uncool" and worthless if they seek to do well and be excellent. Help your child believe that excellence and doing good work can only help him or her to be his / her best for the future.

I leave you with this quote: Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. (Proverb 22:6)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Racism in America

If you had a meter to measure the "racist" attitudes of the United States of America today, what do you think you would rate it as? If one (1) meant "very little or no racism among the majority of the people" and ten (10) being "a lot of racism among the majority of the people" what would you rate the current "mood" of our nation? A rating of five (5) would me in the middle, neither high nor low.

Are we in America working toward common goals or are there entirely different and opposing agendas at work? Are races of various kinds seeking to understand each other more or are they simply remaining in their respective "corners?" To me racism starts when a culture is primarily dependent and driven on the common appearance (skin color) of a group. The group has an affinity to each other and the members make it a point to engage in similar functions with each other. The more they remain with each other, the more they learn to develop similar language, likes, dislikes, etc. They start to develop a culture, initially based on the skin color and then later on their shared values and experiences. As they interact with each other, they may irrationally believe that the race that "binds" them together is actually superior to the other existing races. The thinking can become one where one may conclude that all that belongs to their race is superior and worthwhile, while the attributes of the other races are inferior, and useless.

Too many people make many assumptions simply on race. One may conclude that if the person is "white" he/she may not want to be with a black person and vice versa. Another may conclude that if a person is black, he/she may "love" hip hop. One may also conclude that if a person is white, he may "hate" hip hop. The list can go on and on. Racism can develop simply from culture that is maintained and driven by a person's identity with a group that has a common skin color or tone.

The reality, however, is no skin color no matter how light or dark intrinsically determines anything about a person's contribution to their society. The culture and what is done with it will determine how much or little a group or groups will contribute negatively or positively to society. A "better America" would result, I believe, if as people, we accept and admit that the race is not so much what defines us but more so the culture that we develop based on the groups that drive our identity.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Depeine MediaWorks: Health Care Reform Repeal? Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness?


It is sad to see that Republicans are pushing to repeal the health care reforms that have been signed into law by the Obama administration. This has been such a need in America for many decades. So many people are suffering because of nonexistent health coverage. Many are dying prematurely and unnecessarily because healthcare has simply become a "luxury" that they cannot afford to have.

Many are working at or below minimum wage and they will never be able to afford to pay for individual or group coverage. Are we saying as a nation that the "poor" are not worth the basics of citizenship (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - US Declaration of Independence). Are they not to have life? Should they have a reduced life expectancy because they happen to be on the "wrong" side of the economic divide that exist in our great country? Should our elected officials be well taken care of while the average citizen scrambles to find "home remedies" just to stave off symptoms that eventually will lead to more serious health issues? I do not agree when the lives of American citizens are left to deteriorate and expire when our elected officials can do something to prevent that situation.

As far as I know, all the members of Congress (Congressman/woman and Senators) are very well insured. They are our elected officials and they are well compensated. These members of Congress, as far as I know, have received yearly raises. They have no concern about health coverage or financial stability while in office.

Why is it that these elected officials enjoy such a privilege to serve the people and have generous health coverage for themselves and their families, yet they don't want to extend that same privilege to the Americans that they serve? At the very least, they should be willing to forfeit their health coverage just to understand what it is to live without insurance. Perhaps they would have a little more empathy as they enthusiastically run to repeal a provision that is designed to help so many Americans and reduce exorbitant health costs associated with the uninsured.

We must expect more from our elected officials. I don't believe that elected officials should be so comfortable in their compensations (insurance, raises, etc.) that they "forget" what it is like to serve those who are less fortunate then they are. If you are quick to prevent others the opportunity to get health coverage, then you (Congress member) should be willing to forfeit the coverage that you so happily accept and take advantage of.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

President Obama's characterization and racism in America

As I listen to the many criticisms of our current President, I can't help but notice the visceral nature that they seem to have. Various people seem to make comments that appear to be political in nature, but as you compare them to other references (former presidents who were truly bad) you realize that there is something deeper at hand. First, I am hearing that Barack Obama is not American. Why, because he has a non European name? Is it because his father migrated from a non-European country? There are so many that are in this country that have immigrant parents, their "American-hood" is not brought into question. Second, I hear that Barack Obama is anti-American. How? The man and his family are sacrificing a lot to nurse this country back to health, yet, he is being accused of running the country into the ground and treated like an "alien." Would such claims and accusations been applied to a President of the United States if he/she had two European rooted parents? Would such claims and accusations been applied to a US President if he/she was white? I don't think so. Maybe I'm wrong, but I have never heard it before, never in America, until now. I hear it when America has a black President!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Making Sense: Education and Budget Crisis in New Jersey

As a teacher I have heard many theories and conclusions as to why New Jersey is in the "mess" that it is experiencing. As well, I have also seen assignments of blame attributed to teachers, their unions (which for the most part represent the teachers) and other public sector employees. It appears that it is easier to vilify a sector of the population than to unite and use our best talents to formulate sound and humane solutions.

Amazingly, I have not heard nor am I aware of much blame assigned to the policy makers, "movers and shakers," of the past (regardless of administration or political affiliation). It appears, in my opinion, that the focus is on getting the teachers to cede the few incentives that were adopted to legitimize the profession in our most recent history.

Totally, I agree that "If one suffers, then all suffer." I think it would be impractical to assert and maintain that there should not be any compromise, whatsoever. Compromise is one thing, but "scapegoating" is something entirely different. I have a very simple definition of scapegoating from Wikipedia: Scapegoating is the practice of singling out one child, employee, member of a group of peers, ethnic or religious group, or country for unmerited negative treatment orblame.[1] It appears that New Jersey is being "united" against and at the expense of the teachers. The very people who have supported, inspired and motivated so many in New Jersey to become scientists, lawyers, teachers, nurses, technicians and so much more, are being treated as an "enemy of the State." They are, in fact, builders of the State!

There has been a very negative, beligerent and intolerant mood created in the "Garden State." A mood that fosters dishonor, ingratitude and "destruction." I am amazed that after much has been done to ligitimize the field of education in New Jersey and the United States that so much is being done to undermine it in the current decade. Historically, teachers have served as a backbone for any nation that wants to compete in the world stage. Without the knowledge and dedication that teachers possess, a city, a state, or a country will not advance in the manner that will be significant enough to make it a viable resource in the world community.

This is not a simple subject, I know that. It is not a subject that should be treated carelessly or with frivolity. When one decides to address teachers, professionals whom so many children look to for guidance and solace, one must see to it that he or she does not undermine the very sector that serves many times as a hope and a source of consistency for so many of our youth.

When a child has what they perceive to be "injustice" at home they look forward to the "fairness" of the teacher. When the child has a drug addicted mother/father or both at home, he or she looks to the stability and consistency of the teacher, the professional. When a child feels hopeless and at times suicidal he or she gets hope when the teacher just shows care and concern, first thing in the morning. When parents threathen divorce or follow through with such an act, the child can often feel secure that he or she will find that teacher that is "always there" for them. I can go on with many more, but the point is clear.

You don't want to undermine the very people that serve significantly to keep the young generation, population, motivated and hopeful while they navigate the sometimes treacherous and uncertain roads to responsibility and adulthood. Most of our children have a high esteem for their teachers. When disparaging, careless and unfounded accusations are made against their teachers, it makes them even more insecure and distrustful of the "adult community."

There will be disagreements and that is a good thing. There will be heated conflicts, that's fine also. There will be accusations and a host of other unpleasant things. But most importantly, I ask that all of us really consider the long term effects on the teaching profession in New Jersey and the children who are served by its professionals.

Teachers have always been important to the community. Are they the most important people? No, everyone who lends a hand makes the community better by their contributions. Younger teachers learn from older ones. I learned a lot from senior teachers around me. Let's uphold these teachers and not treat them like a "disease" that we need to eradicate because others have wasted valuable resources on their friends and associates.

Let's be sensible as we address the issue of education reform and the budget crisis. Let's remember that we should not be shortsighted but consider the long term psychological impact of our actions and reactions to what goes on in the public. Let's remember the children who often find refuge in the positive interactions that they have with their teachers. Also, as we move forward with reform, lets see to it that licensed New Jersey teachers (young and old) are at the forefront in making recommendations for what will help in the classroom. Hopefully, the policy makers have been in the classroom recently or are working very closely with teachers, aids, parents who are "on the ground" and can give "real time" accounts of what the needs are in our schools and classrooms. Let's make sense as we try to save cents.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Limits to Freedom of Speech?

America is a wonderful nation. It is a nation whose people really beieve in pursuing and fighting for many ideals that bring it closer to becoming a "more perfect union." In history, various issues have been addressed and confronted. Slavery was challenged and eventually abolished. The "Jim Crow Laws" were also challenged and eventually abolished (although there are some remnants of that thinking and practice in pockets of our "perfect union"). The impracticality of the Vietnam War was challenged and that war was eventually stopped. McCarthyism, a very dark period in American politics, was also toppled. Prejudice and racism has been challenged and continues to be challenged, although not with the same fervor of the "past."
There are many other issues that Americans have addressed or attempted to address to get it closer to being the "more perfect union." Some of those issues are health reform, education reform, economic reform, and a few others that I won't mention in this article.

One thing that runs through all of those issues that I mentioned above is how much "freedom of speech" has been challenged in the process. It seems that everytime someone or a group of people wanted to challenge what has been established they are met with a "roar" of opposition. It almost seems like the rule is, "If it is here, then it must be right already." We even have the very familiar and at times popular phrase: "If it aint broke, don't fix it." Well, perhaps it may not be "broke" to you but it may be "broke" to the person who is being adversely affected by it.

In order to keep striving to become a "more perfect union" it is important that as a nation we leave room for improvement and room to challenge something or things that only benefit a few people, while the majority is "left out in the cold." We must become a nation that not only looks out for the "self" but stops to consider the plight of his or her neighbor. We need to ask the question, "I know I'm okay, but what about the others around me, do they have at least some of the basic things that I have?" If you conclude that they don't, then maybe it's time to explore the possibility of supporting someone or a group that wants to bring about a change in that direction. Perhaps you are the one that can bring about that change?

Sometimes the degree to which an individual has "freedom of speech" is based on how much money he or she has. There are positions that an individual can take that are noble and good, but could cost them their job or livelyhood. Yes, you have the freedom to speak but you also have the freedom to be fired. so you understand that your freedom is limited by where you work and who writes your paycheck. "Freedom of speech" is also influenced by the group that has "media power" or influence. All it takes is for an individual to state a position contrary to that group and the "news is all over it." I have seen people in the news being quoted for making a "true statement" based on history, but because it contradicts the group's agenda, that individual is "blasted" in the media and there are calls for their resignation and firing. Why? Because they spoke a true, historical fact? When the media, the news reporter supports that type of suppression of facts, then the system is "broke." There is a need for some fixing. Of course, I am not saying that the "media" in general is like that. I am saying that this scenario happens too often.

Establishing "freedom of speech" for everyone is a very ideal goal. The United States will do better as it emphasizes innovative and constructive thinking among the people. It is good to highlight people who are coming up with solutions to problems that affect our society. When we look at "education reform" we should not only look at speaking to the teachers, but also the parents and caretakers that are responsible for "preparing the children" for school and society. When we look at racism (a very touchy issue) we must admit that it still exists in many corners of our society. We must create an atmosphere that encourages people to voice the "problem" and prevent others from suppressing the additional progress that could be made in this area.

The United States of America has had many great victories in its short 234 year history. It has weathered many storms. The US is a country that many want to visit and make their home. It is a country that many want to imitate in a lot of areas. It has great influence around the world. It has a lot of resources and it has a lot of potential.

We see that all of the great changes that America was able to accomplish required a lot of energy. There was opposition to the changes but with a lot of perseverance, America moved closer to being a "more perfect union." "Freedom of speech" is at the crux of the changes that America will need to continue to make. Without "freedom of speech" there is no advancement for America, there will only be regression. As we see things that are needing "improvement" lets speak and realize that there will be opposition, but continue the speaking, translate it to action and let's make America the "more perfect union."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Things that I find odd...

1. Many of us want to "stand for something great" but decide to "sit down" when things get uncomfortable.

2. No one wants to be forgotten and welcome phone calls from "friends" but are sometimes too preoccupied to make calls themselves.

3. A lot of parents want their kids to "get an education" but do less than the minimum to help them get there.

4. A lot of people get into politics to "make a difference" but stay in office to please their biggest contributors.

5. Police departments say they are there to "protect and serve" but in most urban districts they are feared and not trusted?

6. Airlines may say "fly with us" but keep you on the tarmac for 8 hours and take you nowhere.

7. Companies say they are "equal opportunity employers" but are more likely to hire their people through referrals from current employees.

8. The average driver pays for auto insurance for accident protection and remediation, yet most of them avoid their insurers to avoid being penalized for getting the very service they pay for.

9. There is a lot of talk of "education reform," yet the very teachers that are with the students are rarely consulted in the process.

10. Most on Earth believe that the Bible is God's Word but "can't find time to read it."

New Jersey Rally of May 22, 2010

New Jersey Rally of May 22, 2010
Young ones making their voices heard.