Opine I will

I am a retired 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.


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7 thoughts on “All politics is local

  1. Anonymous on said:

    A good start. Let the conversation begin. Question!

  2. Nancy Massaro on said:

    Ralph, kudos to you. I really think that you are spinning your wheels. All politicians think about is their next election. I think he should invite you to speak at the Senate hearing on Education. You are in the trenches. some of these politicians have no clue what is going on in the classrooms in the U.S. If they did things would be very different. Teachers would be given decent salaries and children would be learning life skills and not be taught to be tested.
    I admire your tenacity, keep up the good work.

  3. Politicians are starting to understand the education issues of testing and APPR on my end of the state too. Keep the pressure on!

  4. Melody Geroux on said:

    I guess we’ll see if any teachers will vote to re-elect him if he doesn’t make a visible effort at change.

  5. Paul Wolski on said:

    Ralph, keep up the good work and persistence with elected officials. Glad to see that you highlighted Diane Ravitch, who would be the person for Senator Martins to invite to the hearings to be held by the NY State Senate. The content, sharp focus and duration of your meeting with Senator Martins are an example to other teacher-leaders. The NYSED is certainly starting to show some cracks. Let’s keep the pressure on.

  6. I live in NC and I have tried to get to meet with reps and a state senator, to no avail. How, if I may ask, did you get that meeting?

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