Opine I will

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

Two years later

It’s been two years since Joe Biden was inaugurated as our 46th President. His presidency has been an astounding success in many ways. First and foremost, he has been able to restore the world’s confidence in our Nation’s abilities to lead. His unification of NATO to support Ukraine as they are facing Putin’s war crimes is in far contrast to Trump’s attempt to withdraw and destroy NATO. Without a doubt, Trump would have supported Putin’s march across eastern Europe.

Biden’s record of accomplishments are well documented.( https://www.whitehouse.gov/therecord/ ). You can check them out yourself.

Despite the accomplishments over the last two years, we have a cancer that has invaded our wonderful melting pot. That cancer is the divisiveness that drives a minority of our Nation to embrace Trump’s MGA doctrine blindly. Our House of Representatives’ narrow majority is being driven by a few that could drive us all off a cliff. Unfortunately, Speaker McCarthy’s own quest for power has him genuflecting to these few uneducated rabble-rousers. His lack of moral turpitude has allowed these few to bring legislating to an abrupt halt.

McCarthy, stands by silently as his caucus spends most of their time on Twitter, hauling insults, innuendos, and just plain lies in an effort to throw raw meat to MAGA diehards that form their thin political base. They defend a coup that played out on live TV, stating that is was just a tourist visit. They have ignored legal subpoenas while threatening to subpoena others. They have openly stated that Social Security should be abandoned or at the very least require seniors to work to 80 years old. They have threatened Medicare while at the same time should a willingness to throw millions into the abyss of no health insurance. They are insurrectionist that have invaded our government!

These insurrectionists, support abolishing the income tax, and creating a national sales tax that would tax you $30 for every $100 you spend. They want to abandon regulations that have protected, workers, children, families and our Nation. They ignore the benefits of a global society and the value that immigrants bring to our Nation. They spend an enormous amount of time labeling people as illegal and ignored Trump’s record of ripping children from the arms of parents. At the same time, they have failed to offer any serious ideas to solve the issue of migrants who seek a better way of life.

I refuse to label these insurrectionists as the “Ultra -Right” because even the Ultra Right has a platform that can be discussed, debated, and compromised on. These dangerous individuals are nothing more than uneducated thugs Hell bent on destroying our Nation.

That’s why they try to label those of us that are on to them as “Woke”. Even they don’t know what “woke ” means. I am proud to be Woke, because being woke will prevent me from joining their parade of morons.

Elections Have Consequences

The consequences from the election of Trump will impact our lives for many years to come. Today we are witnessing the beginning of a conflict that will effect us for some say decades. All roads lead to that infamous election in 2016.

As of last night, Trump continued to praise Putin as he began his invasion of Ukraine. Let’s not forget Trump tried to destroy NATO with his attempted withdrawal. He worked to undermine the government of Ukraine with his faux Hunter Biden investigation. He even blamed Ukraine for interfering in our election while denying Putin interference. Remember when he said he believed Putin over our own National Intelligence community?

Trump held a meeting in the Oval Office with Russian officials, and we were never informed of the substance of that meeting. Trump also brought in Manifort as his campaign chair and advisor. Manifort with ties to Russia worked for the former Ukraine President who was ousted from office. Manifort was one Trump’s connection to Russia’s sharing of election data.

Trump also brought in Michael Flynn ( despite severe warnings not to) as a National security advisor who previously lobbied for Turkey and never filed as a foreign agent. Flynn was caught meting with the Russian ambassador in an attempt to have Trump reverse sanctions against Russia.

It has been documented that Trump also had connections with Russian financial institutions and oligarchs with his company and when he ran the Miss Universe pageants. He also was looking to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Let’s not forget how Trump’s abrupt withdrawal from Syria handed the heads of our Kurdish friends over to Putin’s forces.

The Trump wing of the Republican Party continues to support Putin. Fox’s Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity broadcasted of the last several weeks how we should not get involved in the  Ukraine/Russia conflict. Last night Trump advisor Steve Bannon defended Putin along with Betsy Devos’ brother Erik Prince.

Yes, elections have consequences! No longer do we have a President that is laughed at and ridiculed by our allies as Trump was. Thank God Biden was able to repair our relationship with our European allies. Just imagine how much worse this could have been.

Be woke!  Be aware that this will be resolved eventually. However it is going to be a long dangerous journey that will need us all to be willing to sacrifice to win peace. Don’t buy into the far-Right crap. Tribalism has no place in our nation today, especially if Putin proceeds into the NATO allied Baltic nations.

The “Grapes of Wrath” Redux?

I have been thinking a lot lately about the Grapes of Wrath and wondering if we are about to repeat this dark time in our nation’s history. We are seeing severe droughts in the west, the homeless population exploding, people living in tents, our food supplies having a difficult time meeting demands and inflation emerging as a concern for many.

At the same time, some states, particularly Red States, are labeling their own citizens as problems, restricting access to medical care (especially for women), ignoring scientific evidence that proves vaccines saves lives, and dividing citizens into separate classes while looking to strip away their right to vote in free and fair elections.

When Tennessee fires their top vaccination official for urging teens to get vaccinated, and other Right Wing leaders call for Dr. Fauci to be fired as well, I can’t help but think how people during the Great Depression were often left to fend for themselves. It makes me angry.

I remember the children in The Grapes of Wrath scoured the dump for scraps of food while officials ignored their plight and sought to exploit their labor while the lack of medical care cost a mother the life of her child. The attempts of the down trodden to organize themselves were often met with violence by those in power and by those who were afraid of losing what they had.

Fast forward to today and there are many parallels to that dark time. Think about it, will we be facing our own wrath soon? Will we let the Far Right drag the soul of our nation down this path?

First Amendment Rights in Jeopardy

‎This kid held a march with 50 people ( mostly high school students) and the Floral Park Police Commissioner in the Village Floral Park, NY just did this.

The march went off without a hitch and the participants walked on the sidewalks from one high school to another one in the same village. Disclaimer:This used to be my home town. Please spread the news of this unjustifiable bullying tactic to shut down First Amendment Rights.

This is Dylan’s post as copied off Facebook…

Dylan Slavin‎ toOpen Floral Park17h

On July 2nd, I contacted the Floral Park Police department about organizing a protest march in the name of the Black Lives Matter movement. Over the course of a week, through emails and phone calls, SGT. Mayo, the Police Commissioner Stephen McAllister, and I agreed to terms for the march. I felt confident that I had the support of the police department. I posted the details of the march on social media and almost immediately I received a phone call from the Commissioner asking me to meet with him at the police station.

On July 6th we had concerns over weather and safety of the protest. I was unable to reach the Police Commissioner through phone, so I had emailed SGT. Dean Mayo with a new flyer, updated route, and time/date of where we would be having the protest. I got confirmation from SGT Mayo who had said, “Thanks. I did alert the Commissioner to the change. It is likely that you will hear from him tomorrow.”. We took this as confirmation that the Commissioner understood the information provided to him and was okay with it since there was no indication from SGT Mayo that there was a problem, so we had posted the new info on social media.

It was not until the next day that the Commissioner’s tone towards me had changed. I was reprimanded for posting the event on social media without “directly talking to him” and suddenly the terms of the march had changed. So, with this I had told the Commissioner that this would be organized through Nassau County Police instead. Subsequently, I also contacted the Nassau County Police Department for guidance and the plans were well received. The police chief informed me that he had already spoken with the Floral Park Police Commissioner and was aware of the day’s sequence of events. Again, with no contest from the Commissioner.

The Black Lives Matter march was a success! We had tremendous support from the community. Our voices were heard and amplified in unison, rallying a need for change for our friends, family and neighbors of color. It was a proud day to know that our community can and will effect change. It was a peaceful and respectful exercise in our First Amendment rights.

Immediately after the protest, my friends were notifying me that summonses were being issued. Within a day, a Floral Park police officer delivered the summons pictured below to appear in Village court in September for violating code 32-2: “§ 32-2 Disorderly and noisy conduct. It shall be unlawful for any person or persons to indulge in disorderly, noisy or riotous conduct at any place in the Village tending to disturb the peace and quiet in the Village or tending to disrupt or disturb any meeting or lawful assemblage therein.”

Not at any time during my conversations with the Police Commissioner or the Sergeant was I told that I, or any activity of the march, would be in violation of village code. I have spoken with the organizers of the two BLM marches in the Village that occurred on June 4th(at Veterans Memorial Park), and June 14th titled “Fists Up for BLM”, and they were not required to apply for permits nor did they receive any village code violations.

I truly believe that I was “punished” for organizing our right to protest. I believe that this summons is supposed to discourage future plans for BLM marches and protests in the Village. I believe the Police Commissioner exhibited abuse of power simply out of spite. We will continue to raise our voices. We will continue to speak up. We will cooperate with law enforcement to practice our right to protest, but we will not be intimidated.

Now is not the time.

Now is not the time to open schools!

Yes, I know we need to get the economy open. I know parents need to get back to work. I know children are losing important time in school. I know all the reasons why we need to open schools. Unfortunately, now is not the time.

We keep hearing that we need more testing, more contact tracing, social distancing, and masks. Even if we had 100% compliance ( which we are nowhere near), is it worth the risk?

We don’t know the long term effects of Covid. We are not pouring money and assets into school buildings to upgrade their ventilation systems, expanding to accommodate 6′ social distance spacing, or the proper training of teachers and other staff members that will need to work in a potentially high infectious environment.

When the policy makers are meeting in virtual meeting rooms from their respective “bunkers” to decide whether children and teachers should be together in a classroom, we should all be able to see through their smoke and mirrors to know something is wrong.

Governor Cuomo today told us all that as long as the infection rate stays below 5% of those tested schools may open. That rate then can go up to 9% after the decision has been made to open. Really? 5% then 9%?? How about 0% Governor?

Are we really willing to gamble with the lives of children and school staff members when we could possible see and end to this nightmare when a vaccine is developed, hopefully soon. Are we unwilling to sacrifice from September to January to protect all children and school personnel?

Our scientists still admit that they do not have a handle on this. They are seeing spikes, they are seeing younger people and children getting infected at higher rates than in April. They are seeing terrible long term issues for those infected. They are also seeing some getting reinfected.

The Trump administration has no plan to open schools. The CDC is about to issue revised guidance for schools because Trump and Pence say the original guidance is too hard to comply with. The US Education Department has no plan to monitor or give guidance to schools.

We already know the federal and some state governments take no issue with kids getting gunned down in their classrooms. We already know states have been underfunding schools for years (especially Cuomo). We already know that teachers have been made the national scapegoats by those looking to takeover public schools for financial gain. So what makes us believe anything they say?

Yes, some parents need to get back to work, especially essential workers. Some children with special needs or other issues need essential educational services. Come up with a plan to help them and stop bailing out corporate big wigs and those politically connected but rather financially support those that really need the help.

We are at war. A war against a virus. If we were invaded and fighting a ground war in the US would we be discussing putting children in classrooms?

My question to all of you is this.. how many deaths due to schools opening are acceptable to you? And while I am ranting, what about all those kids Trump still has locked up in cages?

Covid and school ventilation

Ventilation systems in most schools are outdated and barely work as designed. Even before Covid teachers often felt the effect of poor ventilation in their rooms. Research shows that when room air is not adequately vented out and replace with fresh air CO2 levels rise sharply in s short period of time and as those levels increase cognitive abilities decline by 50% or more.

Now add Covid to this toxic environment. If school ventilation system fail to provide fresh air before Covid, what do you think will happen with Covid? So my question is really this, why haven’t school districts, and states remediated while school buildings were closed?

This is not rocket science! Clean those univents and filters in classrooms, install new ones where needed, and add exhaust fans.

Spacing desks 6′ apart is not enough, cleaning surfaces is not enough! If the air quality is poor all of that will not matter.

The Feds and states must pour money into our school infrastructure if they want to open the economy. Forget the corporate bailouts, for once in my lifetime I would love our nation to put schools at the top of a national priority and support them with the funding needed.

Keep schools closed ( for now)

I am concerned with the latest “semi push” to open schools. Yes, there are emotional and economic concerns that should be part of this discussion. However, the ultimate safety of children, teachers, and other staff members must trump ( sorry about how that word has been ruined) all others.

Until there is a vaccine, an effective treatment, or even instantaneous testing, there will always be a risk. The question that seems to be morphing is, just what percentage of casualties to this virus are we willing to accept? I say 0%.

It is looking like we may have a vaccine or other treatment by the beginning of next year. Until then, keep schools closed. Look for alternative ways to meet the emotional needs of students, financially assist those who must stay home to care for their children, provide broadband and equipment to those who need it.

Look, I am no lover of remote instruction. I hate it, it does not work. What it does do though, is let us continue to tread water until we can swim.

As this pandemic continues to worsen, let’s not lose sight that this discussion has turned into yet another distraction to our national crisis.

Our Fork in the Road

We all know that we have “red” and “blue” states. We also have states competing with each other for needed supplies. We have armed protesters trying to intimidate their state’s legislators. We have Nazi , Confederate, and KKK flags flying side by side with Trump 2020 banners. We have immigrant kids taken from the mothers and fathers and locked up. We have almost 70,000 dead in the last 2 months. We have some saying it’s ok for some to die but we need to open up our economy. Thousands are dying in nursing homes every week.

We have states saying they now need federal financial help in amounts we have never experienced in our nation’s history. We now have a president who has said he will block any financial assistance to individual states unless they agree with his immigration policies.

Last night we had Trump doing a “Town Hall” on Fox news inside the Lincoln Memorial. With the statue of Lincoln as a backdrop he said that he is being treated worse that Lincoln ever was.

This series of events should send shivers up your spine. Think about history, think what went on during the time of Lincoln.

MAGA my ass, this is an attempt to drive an ideological disease that the Trump family has carried with them for several generations. Do your homework understand what history mandates we learn or else we will repeat the same mistakes of the past.

Folks we have reached that fork in the road. Which one will you take?

It’s been a heck of a year

It has been a while since my last post. I have retired from teaching at the close of this school year and I have relocated to the beautiful Adirondack Mountains. Unfortunately, my last year teaching was one of the most difficult years of my teaching career.

As our local president I was in the middle of tense contract negotiations as well as dealing with new principals in every building. Our District hired a new superintendent who promptly moved me to a different building, knowing full well that I was retiring. Needless to say, my relationship with our new superintendent was strained to say the least. Unfortunately I had a school board that was blind to the damaging changes she wrought.

When we first met, I explained that I agreed that some change is positive and needed. However, change should be done with staff, not at staff. Unfortunately that advice fell on deaf ears.

My former district now has lost their science lab, SS texts, spelling, vocabulary, and grammar programs, and a viable reading program. Special ed teachers have their numbers increasing, reading teachers are overloaded and morale across the district is at an all time low. Yet, a ton of money was spent on Chrome books so that students now spend a good part of their day staring at a computer screen.

Testing was increased under this new administration, Fountas and Pinell (3 times a year),STARS ( 3 times a year-unless you get AIS services then it is even more) , and of course our state tests.

We were able to work out a new contract, only after an intense showing by by members at a school board meeting that woke up the community. Solidarity is powerful and my members learned that this year.

Now I move towards a new phase of my life. I intend to continue to advocate for public education and sensible pedagogy. I will begin posting more often but will also include a myriad of topics that I will be opining on.

Stay tuned.


An insult towards experience

Why is it that these so call “change agents” that pop up every year as administrators, consultants, book sellers, publishers, and wannabes lack skills needed to embrace the gains of the past?  They often seek change for that sake of showing that they can affect change. Often these so called self proclaimed change agents have no regard for those who often have much more experience than them. They pretend they know more because they went to a conference, read an article, or most often than not they feel they know a better way.

I happened to be in our district’s conference room this week and I saw this comment taped to the wall.

playing school


I immediately commented on it as an insult to all the teachers in the district with many years of  experience.  I was then told, “The conversation was about children “playing school”, not teachers.”

My response, “So. my students were “playing school” because I was not on the  cutting edge? Past instruction practices caused our students to play school?  Really?”

Don’t get me wrong, change can be good, very good. Provided that change builds on the past’s best practices and that it is supported by real research, not opinion. Cutting edge can cut both ways. We need speak up and defend our own  professional experiences when these change agents declare they have a better way. We have witnessed their failures too many times.

Let’s make sure there is water in that pool before we have our students jump in .


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