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

Archive for the month “October, 2013”

King’s Scarlet Letter

New York State Education Commissioner John King must resign. 

Over the last several weeks the call for King’s resignation has increased exponentially. We all have read how he cancelled a series of ‘Town Hall” meetings after be lambasted by parents and teachers. We all know how he called these same concerned parties ‘ special interest’ groups. We all know how he runs to hide behind Regent Tisch’s skirt whenever he faces opposition. We all know how he refuses to engage in any sort of meaningful discussion on the horrible effects his policies have on children.

King’s Scarlet Letter

King’s latest move to quell the masses of dissent is the last straw for this teacher and parent. King’s latest memo should be pinned to his chest. like a scarlet letter, as he is forced to take the walk of shame into oblivion. His lies, distortions, arrogance, and outright ignorance should be evidence enough to force his immediate dismissal.

The media has it all wrong this time. They are running articles that say King is looking to reduce testing. Unfortunately, they need a close reading lesson themselves.

Why did they miss this little lie?

..the number and frequency of state assessments has remained relatively constant over
the last decade….

Everyone knows, state assessment times have dramatically increased under his reign.  Eight year old children are now sitting for over 540 minutes of testing over the course of 2 weeks each Spring. He also  mandates that children as young as 5 years old be tested. This is far from a constant.

In big bold letters King shouts;

,…the amount of testing should be the minimum necessary to
inform effective decision-making.

He goes on to lecture us..

Test results should be used only as one of multiple
measures of progress, and tests should reflect our instructional priorities.

This distortion combined with his arrogant lecture really set my blood to a boil. If King really believed these two statements, then why are these tests being used to evaluate teachers? Why is my class mandated to take pre and post tests? Why are my students facing another 540 minutes of testing that includes many questions (embedded field questions) that have nothing to do with student progress, or instructional priorities?

King goes on to blame teachers for test anxiety, and all of the other problems associated with his test mania policies.

Students are best prepared to succeed academically through rigorous and
engaging instruction, not rote test preparation.

Really?? Students will not succeed with rigorous instruction, they need VIGOROUS instruction. Why do we continue to allow a misuse of a word as educators? Why hasn’t the media and editors across the nation question the use of this term?

He goes on to begin to blame teachers and districts for ‘rote test prep’ . He further goes on to offer a yet another poisoned carrot and stick approach. He offers grants to districts to support his ” Teaching is the Core” nonsense.

It’s laughable that yet another attempt is being made to drive the conversation with a new sales pitch. “Teaching is the Core” is suppose to convince us minions that we need to do better. He is offering some mysterious grants in the future to support this new principle. Where has he been? We don’t need grants to get us to do more projects, research, and activities. We need time and support. We need the burden lifted of constantly being judged by  some made up rubric, administrators with clip boards, computer assessments, and state assessments. We need the elimination policies that promote HEDI labels, growth scores based on junk science, modules that are mandated by some,and  scripted curriculum, just to name a few.

The vision is simple.

I agree with him that the work is complex and his vision is simple. That’s the problem. His vision and the Board of Regents vision is simple. They think they can simply determine who is effective and who is not. They think if we simply follow some simple set of common standards all will be well.  They simply think the problem is ineffective teachers. The simply ignore the effects testing has on psyche of children. They simply say that we need to be supportive and affirming to reduce the stress their abusive tests is placing on our children.  Yes their vision is simple.. simple minded.

Kings goes on to lecture us with this  statement;

There are approximately 64,800 minutes in the typical school year. Each year, a maximum
of 540 of those minutes are devoted to State tests in Grades 3-8 ELA and math – less than
1% of the school year. It’s what we do with the other roughly 64,000 minutes that will
determine how successful our students become.

King tries to simplify his argument by stating that his tests also account for 1% of the year. My question for him is does he believe that it is acceptable if someone abuses a child for only 1% of the time, because that is what he is doing. 540 minutes of testing is abuse. Embedding field test questions that children may view as too hard or that they are failing is abuse.

King closes by stating that we must teach our way through this moment. He has that wrong as well. We need to get rid of him, that and only that will get us through this moment.  Just saying, “teaching is the core” is not enough. Teaching is not  the core. Teaching is an art, teaching is a passion, teaching is a lifestyle, teaching is an  ability to reach a child in ways that will make that child a lifelong learner, teaching is a calling, teaching is shaping and touching the future. Teaching is not the core.

King must go..





NYS Education Commissioner doesn’t give a sheet what you think

Following David Coleman’s lead, NYS Education Commissioner ,John King, demonstrated yesterday that he doesn’t give a sheet what the parents and teachers of the Empire State think.  The day after a capacity crowd at  Spackenkill High School lambasted the Commissioner, the NYS PTA posted the following notice on their web site;

Upcoming Town Hall Meetings are Suspended

The New York State Education Commissioner’s office has requested suspending the remaining Town Hall meetings on the Common Core scheduled in the upcoming weeks. Please know that NYS PTA will continue to work with all education and child advocacy partners to keep our members updated and informed on education, health, safety and welfare issues affecting children and families. 

The NYS PTA is making a huge mistake cancelling their town halls. Their credibility is now at stake. They should hold their meetings, place an empty chair center stage, and allow parents and teachers to create a record of their concerns for their children and students.

Does Commissioner King’s cancellation demonstrates that he is not capable of meeting this simple standard or is it that he just does not give a shit what the parents  and teachers of NY think?

The Common Core standards for first grade state :

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.1.1 Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.1.1a Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.1.1b Build on others’ talk in conversations by responding to the comments of others through multiple exchanges.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.1.1c Ask questions to clear up any confusion about the topics and texts under discussion.

It’s time for King to go, It’s time for the NYS Board of Regents to demand his resignation. It’s time for the legislature to stop pandering, with their faux hearings, and put a stop to the destruction of our public school system. It’s time for the self proclaimed student advocate, Governor Cuomo, to change the course of his sinking ship, It’s time for parents to stand and be counted, It’s time for teachers to march into their legislative district offices and inform their legislators that we are a viable voting block to be heard from and we will not be treated like scapegoats.

Thank you, John King , for throwing gasoline on the fire. You have lit the way for us…

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