Opine I will

I am an elementary school teacher just trying to do the right thing

All politics is local

Today I  met with my New York State Senator , Jack Martins to discuss education and the reform agenda that is destroying public education.  I have been a vocal critic of Senator Martins over the last several years, so I do have to give him credit for agreeing to meet with me today. We spent over an hour discussing, APPR, high stakes testing, the tax cap, state funding, and the Common Core Standards.  I discovered that there was much agreement between the two of us, however I am a firm believer that actions speak louder than words.

I opened the discussion by presenting him with  brand new copy of Diane Ravitch’s new book, Reign of Error, I explained to him that when the state cuts funding for youth services and other programs that children in need depend on, it effects their performance in school. We discussed how socio-economic factors, that are beyond a classroom teacher’s control, affects their students.

I showed him my district’s testing schedule, and how my students will be losing over 53 learning periods this year. I explained that my 10 year old students will have to sit for 540 minutes this Spring to take these exams in order to rate me. I explained how that I viewed it as a form of child abuse.

We discussed many issues and I was happy to learn that there was common ground that we both could stand on.  Throughout our meeting I urged the Senator to read Diane’s book, and I explained how Diane addressed every topic we discussed today.

He asked what I thought he should do.  I told him to introduce legislation to get rid of the Tax Cap, abandon  APPR, and end high stakes testing. I implored him to demand to see research that supports Common Core and to work towards the removal of John King as Commissioner of Education as well as  Tisch from the Board of Regents.  The good news is that he seemed to agree with just about everything I said. But as a true politician he also used the caveat that some changes may not be achievable.

He informed me that the Senate will be having a hearing on education in the near future.  I told him that I thought that was good, however in order for me to believe that he was serious about changing the tide..he needed to have Diane Ravitch testify at his hearing. I explained to him that having Diane testify would be a good first step and it would send a message that he really wanted to know the real facts about graduation rates, international tests, VAM, and other reform issues.

He made no promises.. but time will tell. We’ll see if he wants to have a real hearing, or whether it  will be just another charade from Albany. You see, all politics is local, the last thing a politician wants is, his constituents to believe he is faking it. I don’t think Sen. Martin is… I hope isn’t.  I guess we’ll see.

 

Reposting of Diane Ravitch’s mysteriously disappearing post

New post on Diane Ravitch’s blog

I Will Not Be Part of Education Nation
by dianerav
Yesterday I received an invitation to sit in the audience at NBC’s Education Nation.

I regret to say that I will decline, as I am very busy these days.

In case you want to know who will be speaking, here is the lineup (http://www.cvent.com/events/2013-nbc-news-education-nation-summit/event-summary-b8182761914b46f69bbb049effaa997b.aspx?i=c201d015-c428-4eae-a71b-b9db619fb3c5).

You will see some familiar names, like Secretary Arne Duncan, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, ex-Governor Jeb Bush, Governor Bobby Jindal, Dr. John Deasey, Lloyd Blankfein (CEO of Goldman Sachs), David Coleman (architect of the Common Core standards), Governor Mike Pence of Indiana (but not Glenda Ritz, who defeated Tony Bennett), Mitch Daniels (the ex-governor of Indiana, Tony Bennett (the singer, not the defeated state superintendent). Quite a number of people known for supporting privatization of public education and high-stakes testing.

But, other than Randi Weingarten and David Kirp, you won’t find any of the prominent figures who oppose the corporate model of measure-punish-close schools-fire teachers-TFA, etc. No Linda Darling-Hammond, no Deborah Meier, no Richard Rothstein, no John Kuhn, no Nancy Carlsson-Paige, no Carol Burris, no Leonie Haimson, none of the wonderful brave teachers, principals, superintendents, and parents who have bravely fought a failing set of federal and state policies.

No innovative thinking here, just the Voices of the Status Quo.

Here is the invitation:
We look forward to seeing you in New York City for the
2013 NBC News Education Nation Summit

Monday, October 7 and Tuesday, October 8

This year, the Summit will focus on “What It Takes” to get a student through our public school system ready to succeed in college, career and beyond. Some of the topics we’ll cover include:

• It takes a great start
• It takes engaged parents
• It takes well-trained teachers
• It takes a safe and secure environment
• It takes high standards
• It takes empowered students
• It takes a degree or credential beyond high school

We will profile a variety of students from across the country whose stories provide a collective snapshot of where we, as a country, stand in terms providing “What It Takes” for success.

As in years past, we will welcome some of the biggest names from politics, education, business and entertainment to join the conversation through newsmaker interviews, panel discussions and compelling individual presentations. In addition, this year’s Summit will feature new opportunities for networking and exchanging ideas among attendees and speakers.

Outside the walls of the Education Nation Summit, we will engage the public in this important conversation by utilizing the strength of top NBC News journalists and the reach of all NBC News platforms – from TODAY, Nightly News and Meet the Press, to msnbc, CNBC and Telemundo, to our digital platforms and social media, local affiliates and owned stations.

Space is limited, so please RSVP by Monday, September 23rd to attend the 2013 NBC News Education Nation Summit at The New York Public Library. This year’s Summit will conclude in the late afternoon on Tuesday, October 8th. The agenda and event details will be added to the registration site on an ongoing basis. If you have any questions, please contact Isaac Norbe at 646-745-1563 or EducationNationRSVP@nbcuni.com. We hope to see you at the Summit.

2013 Education Nation Summit Preview from NBC News on Vimeo.

2013 Summit Panelists
We will post more details on the panelists for the Summit to this page on an ongoing basis, so keep checking back.

Anant Agarwal
President, edX

Timothy M. Armstrong
CEO and Chairman, AOL Inc.

Melody Barnes
Chair, Forum for Community Solutions & CEO, Melody Barnes Solutions, LLC

Susan Benedetto
Co-Founder and Board President, Exploring the Arts

Tony Bennett
Singer and Co-Founder and Board Member, Exploring the Arts

Steve Beshear
Governor, Kentucky

Lloyd Blankfein
CEO and Chairman, Goldman Sachs

Michael Bloomberg
Mayor, New York City

Michele Brooks
Assistant Superintendent, Family and Student Engagement, Boston Public Schools

Sean P. “Jack” Buckley
Commissioner, National Center for Education Statistics

Governor Jeb Bush
Former Governor of Florida

Dr. Pamela Cantor
Founder, President and CEO, Turnaround for Children, Inc.

Dr. Meria Joel Carstarphen
Superintendent, Austin Independent School District

David Coleman
President and Chief Executive Officer, The College Board

Ron Conway
Angel Investor

Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr.
President, Purdue University

Dr. John E. Deasy
Superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School District

Arne Duncan
U.S. Secretary of Education

Jonah Edelman
Co-Founder and CEO, Stand for Children

Marian Wright Edelman
Founder and President, The Children’s Defense Fund

Debra Eschmeyer
Co-Founder and VP of External Affairs, FoodCorps

Allyson Felix
Olympic Gold Medalist

Dr. Phil Fisher
Psychologist and Professor, University of Oregon

Goldie Hawn
Actress and Founder and Board Chair, The Hawn Foundation

Anne T. Henderson
Author, Beyond the Bake Sale and Senior Consultant, Annenberg Institute for School Reform

Freeman A. Hrabowski, III
President, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Caroline Hoxby
Scott and Donya Bommer Professor in Economics, Stanford University

Jay Jefferson
Parent, Coral Gables, FL

Bobby Jindal
Governor, Louisiana

Ben Kaufman
Founder and CEO, Quirky

David Kirp
Author, Improbable Scholars and Professor of Public Policy, UC-Berkeley

Joel Klein
CEO, Amplify

Paul J. LeBlanc
President, Southern New Hampshire University

Jack Markell
Governor, Delaware

Sara Martinez Tucker
CEO, National Math + Science Initiative

Dr. Anthony Marx
President and CEO, The New York Public Library

Svante Myrick
Mayor, Ithaca

Paul Pastorek
Former Louisiana State Superintendent of Education and Member Emeritus, Chiefs for Change

Mike Pence
Governor, Indiana

Dr. Andre Perry
Founding Dean of Urban Education at Davenport University

Daniel R. Porterfield
President, Franklin & Marshall College

Deborah Quazzo
Founder and Managing Partner, GSV Advisors

Dr. Irwin Redlener
President and Co-Founder, Children’s Health Fund

Amanda Ripley
Author, The Smartest Kids in the World and TIME Investigative Journalist

Joel Rose
Co-Founder and CEO, New Classrooms Innovation Partners

Evelyne Santiago
City Year Corps Member

Dr. William Schmidt
University Distinguished Professor, Michigan State University

Jon Schnur
Executive Chairman and Co-Founder, America Achieves

David Shapiro
President and CEO, National Mentoring Partnership

M. Night Shyamalan
Screenwriter, Director, Producer and Founder of the M. Night Shyamalan Foundation

Dr. Dana L. Suskind
Director, Pediatric Cochlear Implantation Program and Professor, Surgery and Pediatrics, University of Chicago

Brenda Van Gorder
Director of Preschool Services, Granite School District

Dennis Walcott
Chancellor, New York City Department of Education

Randi Weingarten
President, American Federation of Teachers

Robert Wrubel
Chief Innovation Officer and Executive Vice President, Apollo Group

dianerav | September 20, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Categories: Education Reform | URL: http://wp.me/p2odLa-5Vl
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Reign of Error -A must read

It was a foreshadowing event in 2011 when Diane Ravitch received the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Prize from the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Moynihan believed that “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Diane Ravitch expounds on that philosophy in her new book, Reign of Error.  Within the first few pages of her book, Ravitch artfully unmasks the agenda of the ‘education reformers’. She states,

Recognizing that most Americans have a strong attachment to their community schools, the corporate reformers have taken care to describe their aims in psuedo-populist terms. While trying to scare us with warnings of dire peril, they mask their agenda with rhetoric that is soothing and deceptive.  

Image

In Reign of Error, Ravitch provides proof, back by solid research, that the corporate reformers have presented  their opinions as facts. She addresses every single claim these corporate reforms use as a pretext to attack our nation’s public school structure, our nation’s teachers, and our nation’s unions.  She includes the research, charts, tables, and empirical studies that form the strong foundation of her work.

Ravitch provides the proof, that our schools are not failing, the achievement gap is closing, we are not falling behind other nations, high school and graduation rates are at all time highs, poverty is being ignored, test scores are not the way to evaluate teachers, merit pay is a failure, and the importance of tenure. Ravitch exposes the audacity of Michelle Rhee, charter schools, parent trigger and virtual schools. Ravitch also lays out a clear concise  course of action towards the essentials of a good education. Challenging our nation to reverse the reformists aims towards destruction.

The reformers are already attacking Ravitch’s masterpiece with rhetoric fueled by ad hominem attacks. That’s the first clue, Ravitch has it right. Opinion does not stand up to facts.

The thousand of educators that follow Ravitch’s blog, will realize that Ravitch has only fed us a daily appetizer with her multiple postings. Reign of Error is the much anticipated main course, served up on a silver platter with all the trimmings.

This is a must read for all those who value our nation’s most valuable assets, our children and their public schools. Arm yourself with the facts..  Moynihan was right.

I will not ally with the Right Wing.

Last night I got into a virtual brawl over some comments I made responding to Diane Ravitch’s  post A Warning to the Anti-Common Core Group in New York. Diane expressed that she was disturbed to learn that the group  called “Stop Common Core in New York State” ( www.stopccssinnys.com orwww.stopcommoncoreinnewyork.com ) and (https://www.facebook.com/groups/607166125977337/) posted a video insulting her good friend Linda Darling-Hammond. She warned the group that if they were really interested in building a nonpartisan coalition, it should avoid insulting people like Linda and stick to the facts.

I took it one step further. I posted this comment 

Some of these anti-common core groups are run by Tea Party types who are conspiracy theory believers. This group and the LI based “parent and teachers against the common core” are dominated by extreme right wing ideology. They are quick to ban those who defend teachers unions.

Well that really set them off.  I encourage you to read the comments. http://dianeravitch.net/2013/08/13/a-warning-to-the-anti-common-core-group-in-new-york/

Let me use this post to make my opine perfectly clear.

There are groups  of all political persuasions that are against the Common Core, high stakes testing and education reform. That said, just because another group may be against something that I am also fighting, they are not considered my ally. You really need to explore the agenda of all groups.

I explained last night, that I am against the Common Core and high stakes testing  due to pedagogical reasons, while groups on the Right were against it for political reasons.  Political arguments are self serving, they reflect a much larger agenda.

In this case these Right Wing groups are pushing a much darker agenda.  They look at Common Core as a grand conspiracy by the left, meant to indoctrinate our children while creating a mega database of  ammunition that will be used against the masses. I can’t be an ally to that rhetoric.

I called out that agenda last night. Posting links that demonstrated that their agenda is so far to the Right that all of us should be wary. These groups are against teachers unions, they are against tenure, they support vouchers, they claim liberal teachers are brainwashing their children, and they claim Common Core is a tool to undermine Christian values just to start. I have been vocal about these groups before, I have shown links to the Heritage Foundation, Freedomworks, the Koch brothers, and other similar groups. Last night I posted proof that their keynote speakers ally themselves with Glenn Beck and the Cato institute.

I encourage you to follow last night’s  conversation, check out the links I posted and make your own decisions.

I will not ally with any group that is looking for my demise as a public school teacher or as a union member. I won’t risk the war, to save our nation’s important asset, our public schools and teachers, to win any battle.

Don’t kid yourself, these Right wing groups that are fighting education reform, with their not so hidden agendas, will ultimately destroy any chance we have to beat back the reformers. They will undermine the foundation of our cause, And once they erode the very ground that public education stands on, all will be lost.

It’s time to call these groups out. Expose their true agendas.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Every campaign has talking points.  I usually don’t quote from Wikipedia but this time it’s spot on target.

Talking point

  
“Talking points memorandum” redirects here. For other uses, see Talking point (disambiguation).

talking point in debate or discourse is a succinct statement designed to support persuasively one side taken on an issue.[1][2][3][4] Such statements can either be free standing or created as retorts to the opposition’s talking points and are frequently used in public relations, particularly in areas heavy in debate such as politics and marketing.

A political think tank will strategize the most effective informational attack on a target topic and launch talking points from media personalities to saturate discourse in order to frame a debate in their favor, standardizing the responses of sympathizers to their unique cause.[citation needed]

When used politically in this way, the typical purpose of a talking point is to propagandize, specifically using the technique of argumentum ad nauseam, i.e. continuous repetition within media outlets until accepted as fact.[citation needed]

The framing of political discourse in terms of simple talking points has been criticized by media personalities such as comedian Jon Stewart for being a superficial examination of issues.[5]

The drivers of the Common Core State Standards and high stakes testing have been using the same talking points to sell their agenda. Media outlets all across the nation mimic these talking points with a ” monkey see, monkey do”  precision only seen in well choreographed campaigns. These media outlets repeat these talking points without challenging their authors’ authenticity.

Let’s start  challenging these talking points.

Let’s start with Race to the Top. What does that really mean? We hear it over and over. States turned their education agendas upside down over this so called race. Has any media outlet challenged these words? All races have losers, only 1 entity really can win any race. What does this really mean?

 “College and career ready” is another talking point mimic-ed by the media without thought. What does that mean? Where is the data that supports it. Considering our colleges have enrollment and graduation rates at historic highs, where is the data to support this point?

“Rigor” is another favorite of the reformers. Schools must have rigor in their  assessments and curriculum has been the rally cry for the reformers. Yet when we look for definitions of rigor in their press releases we find nothing. New York State even demands thatall district created assessments developed to evaluate teachers have rigor, yet New York State leaves out what  rigor is. They leave that term up to local superintendents to certify that rigor exists.  So what is it?

“Critical thinking” The Common Core is supposed to be geared to promote critical thinking. Yet when one looks at these Common Standards there seems to be little critical thinking across the board. Is critical thinking a method of evaluating points of view and creating arguments? Can critical thinking be achieved by skewing literature with short reads? Is critical thinking developed when teachers follow carefully worded scripts across the nation? It is ironic that the supporters of the Common Core promote critical thinking while stripping away the ability of professional educators to utilize their critical thinking abilities to teach their students.

The new talking point introduced this week is ” a new baseline”.  This week New York State released state test score results that created a frenzy throughout the state. Scores dropped to unthinkable levels, due to hastily created exams designed to create ” a new baseline.” On average 70% of all NY students are now labeled as not on grade levelThe media has instantaneously bought into this new baseline theory without challenging the authors to its authenticity. The tests that created this new baseline remain locked away to prevent scrutiny of its content or validity. The”new baseline’ seems to appease the masses for now so we now see ” a new baseline” used in editorials across the state.

What if this “new baseline” is really an error? What if this national social experiment titled ‘ Common Core” really does not promote critical thinking? What if “rigor” isn’t in the best interest of the child and rigor ignores the developmental abilities of the child? What if the  “college and career ready” rhetoric is nothing more that shrill of a side show barker?

What would happen if the news media really did their job and stopped repeating these talking points without intellectual thought?

 

 

Terror From Within

The next battle in the war to take over our public schools had begun in New York State . The ‘reformers’ leashed a new propaganda campaign , claiming they knew all along that our schools are the cause of our nation’s woes.

This is our real war on terror folks, terror from within.

Labeling our schools failures has been a successful diversionary tactic of those who are gaining financially and politically. Today communities all across New York will be told that their schools are not adequately preparing their children for ‘college and careers’. Those who have planned to inflict terror have planned long and hard for this day. They even warned us that this day of reckoning was coming. They have also promised that only they can provide the way to a more secure future. Follow them or be tossed to the wayside. They demand that all follow the Common Core Standards, for that is the way.

Today they  stand before us and ask for calm. They  feign concern while reassuring the citizens of this state that all is well, and that this is a needed step in their reform movement. The indoctrination of the nation is underway and it will be in full force .

Be All-In and dump those with Tin Foil Hats

It’s been far too long since my last post. Been way to busy, shutting down the classroom, packing things away, and decompressing the mind and soul. I now have to begin gearing up for next year. I was elected President of my local union and just finished an intensive 4 day new president’s conference with NYSUT. In the meantime, I’ve also been watching the discussions on Twitter and Facebook. The good news is, groups like “Badass Teachers Association” (BAT) on Facebook are growing exponentially. The bad news is, more and more awkward alliances with those who wear ‘tin foil hats’ are also happening.

I consider myself a badass teacher. I agree with their mission and I have joined their site along with nearly 20,000 others in the last week or so.

Badass Teachers Association was created to give voice to every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality through education. BAT members refuse to accept assessments, tests and evaluations created and imposed by corporate driven entities that have contempt for authentic teaching and learning.

I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. I believe our nation’s most precious asset, our public schools, are at risk. I believe the Common Core is a dangerous national social experiment, that was rushed to the forefront without
research, study, piloting or critique. I believe that parties on both sides of the aisle have rushed onto the reform bandwagon in a futile attempt to fix what they perceive needs fixing. Unfortunately, both groups have chosen the same asinine reform methods to fix very different perceived problems.

Those on the left perceive the problems lie with social justice issues, while those on the right perceive the problems lie with teacher’s unions, and a so called left wing curriculum.

Both groups have united in a call for a Common Core Curriculum, some form of high stakes testing, evaluating teachers, closing rather than fixing schools in need, and ignoring the expertise of those of us in the field. They have shared the spoils of this reform movement, billions of tax payer dollars are being divided up by consultants, publishers, software companies, and corporations opening their own version of “nirvana schools.”

The resulting backlash has been from groups like BAT, Parents against the Common Core, Opt Out and others. Forces from both sides of the aisle are speaking out, claiming non-partisanship, and claiming numbers count in this battle for our nation’s schools. I think we all agree, creating our own bandwagon, taking over the public discussion, driving our agenda, pushing that pendulum back toward common sense and reasonableness is the way to go.

Unfortunately among us with the tin foil hats may destroy our efforts.

Yes, I have heard the claim that we are united and this should be non- partisan. But in reality we are not united. To be Badass, to believe in opt out, to really against the Common Core as it presently stands,and to be against high stakes testing, you need to be all in. I mean really all in!

You can’t support the Tea Party types, who with their tin foil hats, believe government is taking over our minds and souls, You can’ t place your support and discussion of Parents against the Common Core on a Heritage Foundation website. You shouldn’t allow people like Glenn Beck carry your banner against the Common Core. You can’t support those in the Republican Party who ignore social issues, bash teachers and their unions, and destroy collective bargaining rights.

The truth is, you are not all in if you support these groups.

Creating alliances with any group that would look to destroy public unions is a death knell to our profession and our national identity. Don’t tell me we all can’t agree on every issue, don’t say, “look at what we agree on and not where we differ.” That’s not being all in.

Granted the Democrats are part of the problem as well. However, their motivation from the social justice side is far more tenable that the motivations of those on the Right. I refuse to ally with those who look to destroy us from the Right.

I am beginning to see those with the tin foil hats in our groups, emerging as a voice against teacher’s unions, questioning their motivation and their decisions. Those of us who believe in unions know that change must happen from within. The Union is us, we need to drive change from within our ranks by getting involved, attaining leadership positions, and educating our members.

That’s what it takes to be all in.

 

Parents setting the record straight for me.

My previous posts, I Need to Set the Record Straight and Still Setting it Straight  have  documented the false accusation and removal from my classroom that I was subjected to.

Just to recap, I was accused of posting a Pearson test question on Twitter. I was placed on administrative leave, escorted out of my room by my superintendent of schools, ultimately escorted out of the building and ordered not to return until New York State ruled on my guilt or innocence . Twenty four hours later, NYS ruled I did no wrong and I was informed that I was no longer a threat and could return to my classroom.   I have been demanding a public apology from the Superintendent, as well as my school board. To date that apology has not happened.

At this point, I don’t expect an apology. I never really did. In this age of litigation an apology could be seen as an invitation to accepting a liability. I understand that. What I don’t understand is the  failure to correct a wrong doing. I don’t understand the pretending that my superintendent’s actions were OK, and that no comment was warranted. Not even a show of support for him.. nothing, nada.. no comment at all.

Until the other night…

Tuesday night was our PTA’s installation and award night. Typically this night consists of awards and certificates given to parent volunteers and several teachers for their hard work. In the past I have received as well as presented  several of these awards. I was asked this week to present an award to a grade level colleague of mine, which I really enjoyed  and was honored to do. As I sat there watching and listening to the awards my mind was racing with thoughts of how does NYS measure this? How could this fit into our evaluation that will rate our effectiveness.

Then something unexpected happened, my family walked into the room. My children and my wife! ( I wondered what was going on.) Then 3 of my colleagues stood up and announced that the PTA has awarded me the highest award of the night ,The PTA Distinguished Service Award!  Their heartfelt words washed over me and cleansed me of the injustice I have endured!

The parents of my school set the record straight! Choosing me for this award and more importantly making sure my family was there as well to witness it  was more than I could  ever imagine.  I am forever grateful for the support and confidence during these trying times.

But the story is much bigger than just me…

Parents throughout the nation are also beginning to set the record straight.

Parents are organizing to opt their children out of high stakes testing. Parents are challenging the motive and research behind the Common Core Curriculum. Parents are challenging those who want to create a data base of their children’s information. Parent’s all across the nation are saying stop scapegoating our teachers, stop closing our schools, stop destroying our nations most important asset. Parents will be setting this all straight.

As far as my superintendent and school board’s apology… well they can keep it. I don’t need it. They had their chance.

The parents of my school  set the record straight.

APPR- Annual Professional Performance Review or A Pathetic Plan for a Race

As our academic year comes to a close, teachers all across New York State are wondering whether or not HEDI will be preempting their end of year celebratory send off. In years past most of us looked forward to started anew in September. We looked forward to summers when we had the time to develop new units of study, get some reading done, maybe earn a couple of professional development credits, and possibly work in a summer program. Some of us also use our summers to recharge our batteries, get our bladders back to a normal schedule, and perhaps reconnect with our own families. In all cases we also looked forward to greeting those new faces and new challenges every September.

Unfortunately, for some of us HEDI will force us to wonder what happened, why has the ‘game changed’ and will we be forced to switch channels. Will our lives be turned asunder, will we be labeled ineffective?

New York State’s new teacher evaluation plan is based on APPR, an annual professional performance review. This review will either rate teachers as highly effective, effective, developing, or ineffective. This rating is based on several indicators- 20%-25% will be based on the New York State tests in Language Arts and Math, 15%-20% will be based on a local district selected assessment, and 60% will be based on 2 observations and the presentation of ‘evidence’ of a teacher’s professionalism. Today I find myself gathering ‘evidence’ that will serve as proof of my professionalism. Our district, much like many across the country have decided to use the Danielson Framework for Teaching as the tool to measure teachers. Even though I have heard rumors that Danielson, frowns on using her framework as a measuring tool, she has entered into deals with other companies and publishers that have developed computerized programs so that administrators can merely use their I pads to walk around and check off whether or not you have meet the rubric’s ambiguous criteria.

Take a look at Domain 1 and Domain 4..
Domain 1Planning and Preparation

1a Demonstrates knowledge of content and pedagogy
1b Demonstrates knowledge of students
1c Setting Instructional outcomes
1d Demonstrates knowledge of resources
1e Designing coherent instruction
1f Designing student assessments

Domain 4 Professional Responsibilities

4a Reflection on teaching
4b Maintaining accurate records
4c Communicating with families
4d Participating in a professional community
4e Growing and developing professionally
4f Demonstrating professionalism

Pretty open ended requirements you might say. But take a look at what that evidence could be for one sub category…

1d. Demonstrating knowledge of resources

Students and the classroom teachers are highly respectful reflecting genuine warmth, caring and sensitivity to students’ cultures and levels of development. Students themselves ensure high levels of respect.

Brings additional resources to curriculum/lessons …, SMARTBoard, newspaper and magazine articles, trade books, film, video streaming, etc.

Brings people from the community into the classroom to enhance instruction

Utilizes instructional websites to enrich curriculum/lessons

Ordering resources such as books, magazines and audiovisual materials

Evidence is district subscription to online encyclopedia (World Book) Book talking, book sharing and book displaying

Now here’s the rub. We are required to provide tangible evidence for each and every category. We are expected to put together a portfolio that proved we are effective to some degree… Hence HEDI.

Why do I have to prove my worth now. Administrators have march in my room so much this year, I even considered putting in a work order for a revolving door. Haven’t they witnessed my craft? Parents have met with me, and have seen the outstanding growth of their children, yet I still must gather evidence. I’ve been observed, I’ve attended meetings, I’ve been to workshops, I’ve shared articles, I’ve mentored other teachers and I still must gather evidence to fulfill the HEDI requirements. My question is why? Why must I now provide this? Haven’t my administrators seen the evidence already?

I refuse to gather my own evidence. I’ve offered to hand truck my filing cabinets down to the office, where any administrator can look for evidence. I’ve asked my principal to meet with me and I can show her anything she needs to prove my worth. Thank goodness she agreed to that.

That’s why I believe APPR is nothing more than A Pathetic Plan for a Race. Race to the Top is a failure.

Still setting it straight!

The response  to my post I need to Set the Record Straight has been overwhelming.  The level of support and words of encouragement shown by my readers and colleagues throughout the nation demonstrates the importance of communicating in this new digital world we find our selves in. I have refrained from updating on my predicament in hopes that everything would be resolved, and the proper apologies and record straightening would  happen.  Unfortunately I am starting to believe that these apologies may never happen, and once again adults will have failed to set a proper example for the children whose lives we touch every day.

That said, it’s time for an update;

Just to recap, I was accused of posting a Pearson test question on Twitter. I was placed on administrative leave, escorted out of my room by my superintendent of schools, ultimately escorted out of the building and ordered not to return until New York State ruled on my guilt or innocence . Twenty four hours later, NYS ruled I did no wrong and I was informed that I was no longer a threat and could return to my classroom.   I have been demanding a public apology from the Superintendent, as well as my school board. To date that apology has not happened.

I have since learned that the very same math problem that I was accused of copying, was published in Long Island’s largest newspaper several months ago and in our high school paper two weeks before I posted it.The same problem is also given as an explicit example in the Common Core Standards as well. So much for the intensive investigation my superintendent allegedly performed!

Over the past two weeks I contacted each member of the school board personally and stated my case and requested a public apology. Each and everyone of them ignored my correspondence, until I received a very curt response from the Board President, who basically claimed the Superintendent did what he had to do. My student’s parents, in the meantime, have rallied to my cause and have embraced me in ways I can’t even express without getting emotional. They too have contacted the same Board demanding and apology on my behalf as well as my student’s behalf.   By the way several of these parents are now candidates for the school board.

Last night our school board had their regularly scheduled meeting. I sat in the front row patiently waiting for my turn to speak.  When the public comment session began a parent came up and told the board that teachers should be respected, and that the recent actions from the Superintendent should be addressed. He drove home the point that his community was one that embraces teachers and supports them anyway they can. Without naming names he drove home his message that I was treated poorly. He ended to a standing ovation from most of those in the room.

I then approached the podium, and explained how much I loved teaching. I was expecting to be shut down at any moment however, I reminded the board I even went to this very same school as a child, and that I consider myself a part of this community with a long history within it. I explained calmly  how I was removed from my class, escorted down the hall, given orders that forbade me from even returning to my room for any personal possessions without an escort. I explained how my students had to face the 6th day of extensive testing that lasted 540 minutes without the emotional support of their teacher. I explained how teachers should never be treated they way I was, how my Superintendent did a terrible job investigating the accusation and that my removal from the classroom was unwarranted.

I also expressed my own personal displeasure with the board that they failed to respond to my correspondence with even an acknowledgement of receipt. I explained employees should never be treated they way I was. As I spoke, I looked every board member in the eye, my Superintendent never looked up. I notice nods of approval and signs of their own uncomfortable standing.   I closed that the board should have said, we are sorry for what you went through and that the public should recognize that I did nothing wrong.

I then sat down.

There was an uneasy silence for a moment, then I noticed most of those in the room stood up and applauded my comments.

The meeting was called to a close, not one board member spoke up. Nothing! No acknowledgement! Nothing, meeting over!

I stood there in stunned silence then a board member approached me, apologizing for my predicament. I politely thanked him, but also told him that his  apology really wasn’t worth anything, unless he made it from the table during the meeting. He then informed me that its not over, the board has some serious work to do and to be patient. I accept his word on that for now.

Another board member then approached with a similar message. As I scanned the room, I noticed parents lecturing board members and demanding a wrong me righted.

I also promised those two board members, that I’m not done. I will continue argue for an apology that is due.  A board member explained to me that  we are all aware teachers seem to have targets on their back lately and that’s unfortunate. I politely agreed and explained how it’s even more important that our own superintendents shouldn’t take shots at that target as well.

 

The bottom line.. teachers have become our nation’s scapegoats. I refuse to accept that, I refuse to be treated like I am an indentured servant.  We are professionals, we are highly qualified, we are well educated, we have our nation’s future in our hands. Stay tuned…

Solidarity!

 

 

 

 

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