Opine I will

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

Archive for the month “May, 2014”

Tin Foil Hat Time

The other day my in-box was overrun with comments from a Facebook page I like. ( I will not reveal the page out of respect to its administrator who has been doing a great job fighting for children.)

A debate raged on throughout the day regarding NY Governor Astorino’s anti- Common Core stance and pro charter stance which was championed by some on the extreme Right. They felt since Astorino was against Common Core, that was reason enough to throw support his way against Cuomo. When some pointed out that the issues are much more complicated than just the Core all hell broke loose.

Teachers were accused of looking out for themselves and not children. Astorino supporters accused those, who wonder what his full agenda is for public education really is,  as being simply for unions and not children. This nonsense went on all day , over 1000 comments were made and  many were very personal attacks. I didn’t post anything until late in the day when posted this.


ok folks… calm down. Let’s stop the bickering.. Focus on the problems… CC, charters, consolidation gimmicks, tax caps, vouchers, privatization, Pearson, Texas controlling our textbooks, attacks on tenure, attacks on unions, unfunded mandates, RTI used to deny services, data mining, class size, virtual schools, attacks on pensions, TRS contributions, making new hires pay more for pensions and insurance, attacks on steps, attacks on Triborough.. and more.

The response I got from one of the most vocal posters was, Ralph forgot to mention the children.

Well I simply lost it at that point..

I posted.. been reading your rants all day… If you knew the issues you would know they are mostly all about children. 
Lets start with RTI… you even know what that is? 
Normally, I would take the time and explain each and every one. but not tonight. I don’t have my tin foil hat with me.. You see I need it to deal will people like you. 

No body wants to read your sophomoric rants anymore… make your point, sit back an act like an adult, instead of some crazed person looking on the web to pick a fight. That is not productive, it’s childish and very ugly. 

Have a wonderful night.

I thought pointed, but pretty tame .  The entire Right wing was then on attack mode.  This was clearly evident when I was accused of not thinking about children. They must have donned their Tin Foil battle hats because I was clearly the Left Wing Socialist that dared to speak about the larger picture.

This is why I will not allywith the Right wing  I have written about it more than once.


Let me be real blunt…

The extreme Right wing is against public schools, public school teachers, funding of public schools, social services of any kind, diversity, and just about everything I believe in.

Why in the hell would I ally on 1 issue… when given a chance, they would take us back to an era when if you needed help it was your problem. They look at the past as if was a rerun of Leave it to Beaver, ignoring the tremendous social issues of our past.


Will I vote for Cuomo? NO!  I will not vote for Astorino either.. I do not want to live in NY under another Republican Governor. We suffered enough under Pataki. If Cuomo wins let him win by default, then I will focus on the legislature, because they will be the real ones in trouble.

The Governor’s election is only a battle in this major war to protect our public schools. I want to win that war.



Today we Rally

Today teachers in New York State will be rallying outside the NYS Democratic Convention at the Hilton in Melville, NY.

Once upon a time, Democrats valued public school teachers
Then the Race to the Top began…
• Cuomo became our Governor
• teachers were scapegoated,
• children were used as pawns in high stakes tests
• tax caps began to break our schools
• a Common Core was shoved down our throats
The “King” refused to listen to the people…

So now teachers are here to ask, “why should we value Democrats???”

My 6 minutes of fame?

Last Friday I was angry and ashamed, so I sat down at my laptop, after school, and banged out my heartfelt thoughts as a self induced form of therapy and self reflection.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have predicted the reaction that last post received. The number of hits on my blog skyrocketed, and Valerie Straus of the Washingtom Post   re-posted my story . Then things really got interesting, several talk radio stations tracked me down requesting interviews and then Glen Beck’s newest venture  ‘The Blaze’ ran the story. I was then asked to be on Beck’s ‘Real News’ show to discuss my blog and the Common Core.  What a week it has been so far!

The comments I received on my blog were mostly complimentary. Teachers weighing in and agreeing with me for the most part. I expected that, considering most people who would follow a link to my humble site most likely are teachers or parents who tend to agree with my views.

On the other hand, the comments from the Washington Post (well over 700) were mostly mixed.  I expected that considering it has a tremendous following for many different viewpoints.

What I didn’t expect was this from Glen Beck. He did this piece as a tease for my upcoming segment on Real News.  I appreciate that he recognizes my peaceful resistance against the reform policies that are coming  from both the left and the right. However I do have some issues in how he perceives the problem. First,  I don’t view  John Dewey as an ‘evil dude’.

I also disagree with his statement when he says,

Ask yourself that question.  Have our schools gotten better or worse since the federal government got involved?  Why should we listen to the people who gave us the Department of Education in the 1970s?  Since its inception, spending per child has tripled while student performance has flatlined or declined.  What evidence is there to suggest that they have any earthly idea on what they are doing?”

I have addressed this issue on this blog before when I wrote ” Let’s Drive This Data”.

The good news is, Glen Beck does understand that public education is under attack from both the Left and the Right when he says,

” This is one of those fights that exposes the frauds on both sides of the aisle.  This is one that can bring all Americans together.  The establishment Republicans, the Lindsey Grahams, the John McCains, the Jeb Bushes of the world, and the Democrats, they’re beholden to the almighty corporation and the progressive agenda, both of them, and they’re dutifully escorting Common Core into every classroom against your will.”

I wonder if his staff has read an earlier piece that I have written, where I state that in order to win this battle we need to ” Keep it Simple”.  In  this post I have said,

“I am against the Common Core and high stakes testing due to pedagogical reasons, while groups on the Right are against it for political reasons. Political arguments are self serving, they reflect a much larger agenda. Calling it Obamacore may feel good to some but it does not help our cause.

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.”

Unfortunately, I don’t believe Mr. Beck is a true friend of public education, teachers and public schools.

I was invited onto his network’s Real News show to be interviewed. It lasted a mere 6 minutes. The interview was supposed to be about my blog and Common Core testing. Watch  and see where it went. I think I held my own  considering this was a first for me.

Let me know what you think. 




Ashamed to be a teacher today

Today was the first day I was ever ashamed to be a teacher.

Today I finished administering the sixth day of New York State Common Core assessments. I was a facilitator in a process that made my 10 year old students struggle,to the point of frustration, to complete yet another 90 minute test. I sat by as I watched my students attempt to answer questions today that were beyond their abilities. I knew the test booklets I put in front of them contained questions that were written in a way that 95% of them had no chance of solving. I even tried to give my students a pep talk, in hopes of alleviating their angst, when I knew damn well they didn’t stand a chance. Today I was part of the problem.

As I watched my students, I was angry that my efforts to stop this madness were not successful. I was angry at my students’ parents for not opting out their children. I was angry at my administrators for not stepping up to the plate and attempting to end this madness. I was angry at Governor Cuomo, NY Education Commissioner King, the Board of Regents, my state senator, my state assemblyman, President Obama, and even my state union. I was angry that my students were victims in the abusive game to drive a political agenda.

I lost it today. I lost a little bit of my self esteem. I lost my faith in my Party. I lost my faith in my ability to protect my students. I lost my faith in our future.

I watched my students valiantly attempt math questions that most adults could not answer. These questions were wordy, and purposely confusing in a warped way to prove some vulgar point about our public education system. Historically, my students excel on standardized tests, often finishing near the top of our district and state. Today I witnessed , no I was part of!! students enduring an abusive situation.

Today I am ashamed. I am ashamed I didn’t do enough to stop this madness.

But, I am not done. I am pledging to double my efforts to stop this form of institution abuse. My state senator and assemblyman be warned that if you do not work to end this madness, I will work to have you replaced with someone who will. Governor Cuomo, be warned that I will work harder to ensure your sick agenda is exposes you for what you really are. Commissioner King, be warned that I will do whatever I can to make sure you are replaced.

Today is a dark day…but not for long.

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