Opine I will

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

Archive for the month “June, 2013”

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.

Post Navigation