Opine I will

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

Archive for the month “February, 2015”

Cuomo is an ignorant thug

New York State Governor Cuomo latest tantrum is yet another move in his billionaire campaign contributors’ playbook. Unfortunately, the children of the Empire State will become his sacrificial pawns in his warped war against public school teachers. Cuomo refuses to visit our schools or even have a discussion with teachers. Those are the actions of a ignorant thug, not a governor.

Cuomo is now demanding that Long Island teacher evaluations be reviewed by the state education department (NYSED). He ignores the fact that NYSED has already extensively reviewed every teacher evaluation plan and has ordered just about every district to modify their plan before they would approve it. He ignores the fact that each district had a limited number of plans to choose from because his NYSED created a limited approved list to choose from.

Cuomo chooses once again to ignore his own words when he held school funding hostage back in 2012 and forced a compromise on teacher evaluations. Remember when he said,

“Today’s agreement puts in place a groundbreaking new statewide teacher evaluation system that will put students first and make New York a national leader in holding teachers accountable for student achievement,” Governor Cuomo said. “This agreement is exactly what is needed to transform our state’s public education system, and I am pleased that by working together and putting the needs of students ahead of politics we were able to reach this agreement.”

Cuomo tends to do that, promises one thing to appease his critics then ignores his promise. Remember his promise to the Working Families Party and his promise to sign HIS legislation that would hold off on the consequences of faulty teacher evaluations this year?  Both promises ignored and thrown out the window, this is not a governor; this is the workings of a thug.

Cuomo uses a recent biased article in Newsday to once again attack public school teachers, specifically Long Island teachers while ignoring the fact that 91% of all Long Island students graduate, outperforming every state in the nation.

Cuomo is a vindictive thug who has lined his campaign war chest with thousands of charter school backers’ dollars. He is positioning NYS to sell off our most valuable assets, our public schools.

Cuomo’s ignorance is in full view of the nation and the world. This is a guy who has been labeled as having presidential aspirations. Can we even fathom what a disaster that would be for this nation?

My Dad

I usually opine on this blog on education issues but not today.  Today’s post is dedicated to my dad who taught me to stand up for what you believe in. Rest in peace dad.

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My father is a remarkable man who taught me to work for what I believed in, no matter what others thought or said and the importance of family. At times we misunderstood his stubbornness, and like all families we argued and disagreed. I am sure many of you know first-hand what I am talking about.

Yet despite those arguments at times, he was always there when his family needed him.

When we look back with today’s lens, at my father’s life, we see that he grew up in a time of unfathomable hardship, poverty and despair. Yet my father told us stories of his life through the eyes of a child who fondly looked at these times as one of good memories, and family.

He was born into a typical immigrant family that lived in the poorest tenement, where families and rats shared a toilet in the hall, took baths in the kitchen sink, and slept on fire escapes in the summer.  Yet he always described these living conditions fondly to us.

At 8 yrs old he was sent to a Catholic orphanage with his brothers Augie and Carmine because his parents just couldn’t take care of them. Imagine what that must have been like. Living in a dormitory that wasn’t heated very well, wearing too thin of a uniform, in conditions that would never be allowed today. Yet when my dad described these times to us, he told us of good times with his brothers and Father Kenny teaching him to swim and looking forward to his mother’s visits.

At 10 yrs old he began working to help his family. He sold paper bags on Park Avenue, and the Daily News on the Subway at night. Can you even imagine sending your 10 year old to Times Square to sell newspapers on the subways? Even at 10 yrs old he helped support his family.

At 12 yrs old he was still working to help his family by delivering furniture on a pushcart, or delivering ice. He would shine shoes in the bars along 3rd avenue and would eventually make his way to central park where he would shine the shoes of sailors on leave after Pearl Harbor

He would always give his mother most of the money he earned, because even despite the hardships then he knew the importance of family. He eventually began working with his brothers in a printing shop, until he joined the army. Again family working together.

There were times when his home life was not a happy one. His father was a heavy drinker and often abusive to his mother and the family. So, he joined the army to escape that, yet he continued to send most of his pay home.  After his service in Korea and Germany he returned home to find that things were not much better, so he went to live with his Army buddy Walter’s family in Ohio. In Ohio he once again scrapped together a living until finally coming back home. Because he knew deep down that family was important.

He may not have shown it all the time but he always remained loyal to family values despite times of bitter turmoil. His home was always open to family, whether you needed a place to live there for a while, stop in for a drink or 3, or just a place to sit and chat. My father’s door was always open to family.

As his own family started to grow he always taught us family came first. We never went without, even when he had to work two or more jobs to make sure my sisters and I had what we needed. He was always there when we needed him, whether it was fixing a pipe, painting a wall, or trying to fix our cars. He was a fixture at all of our children’s plays, concerts, and especially ball games. Even when his health was failing, he would be there, cheering and rooting for his grandchildren to give that ball a ride.

You see, spreading his love and joy for family was his life’s mission. In his last days he assured us that he will always be there for us, and I believe he is and always will.

Governor Andy Cuomo is not #whatkidsneed!

Andy Cuomo, our sophomoric New York State Governor, claims to be the only student advocate, yet he is willing to hold the children of our state hostage as he pushes his vendetta campaign against public school teachers across the Empire State.

New York State United Teachers ( NYSUT) has begun a #whatkidsneed campaign to highlight what is at risk with Cuomo’s education destruction agenda. Keeping in that spirit I thought I would list things that kids don’t need from Andy Cuomo.

  1. Doubling the weight of high stake tests that will “break our students backs” is NOT #whatkidsneed!
  2. Making 9 year old children sit through 540 minutes of tests is NOT#whatkidsneed!
  3. Using the release of vital school budget information as a weapon is NOT #whatkidsneed!
  4. Keeping state aid below 2008 levels is NOT #whatkidsneed!
  5. The New York State Regents recommended a budget increase of $2.2Billion, Andy’s 50% reduction down to $1.1Billion is NOT #whatkidsneed!
  6. Andy Cuomo’s tax cap which has pushed many districts into fiscal distress is NOT #whatkidsneed!
  7. Andy Cuomo’s inflammatory language about public schools is certainly is NOT #whatkidsneed!
  8. Andy Cuomo promoting the agenda of his hedge fund billionaire campaign supporters is NOT #whatkidsneed!
  9. Allowing Charter schools to siphon need funds away from public schools is NOT #whatkidsneed!
  10. Programs that are being eliminated due to Andy’s tax cap is a trend that is NOT #whatkidsneed!
  11. Andy Cuomo’s continued use of the Gap Elimination Adjustment that is driving class sizes up and destroying programs for kids is NOT #whatkidsneed!
  12. Demonizing dedicated professionals that are vital for our children’s future is NOT #whatkidsneed!!
  13. Supporting standards that are based on political rhetoric and not real research is NOT #whatstudents need!
  14. Eliminating due process which will hamper a teachers effort to speak up for their students is NOT #whatkidsneed!

As we begin the second term of Andy Cuomo, it is clearer than ever that this is a governor that is NOT #whatkidsneed!

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