I will not be ashamed this year!
Almost a year ago I wrote ” Ashamed to be a Teacher” because I just 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 6 days of 90 minute tests. I sat by as I watched my students attempt to answer questions 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. That day last year I knew I was part of the problem.I pledged to double my efforts to stop this form of institution abuse.
And I did..
I attended the New York State United Teachers ( NYSUT) leadership institute. I made sure I attended as many workshops, meetings, conferences and protests as I physically could. I helped plan Nassau County’s “Stand Up Speak Out for Education” forum. I reached out and educated parents who formed their own alliances. I increased my presence on social media, relentlessly driving the message that high stakes testing was institutional test abuse. I educated the members of my local to ensure that they knew and understood that we were at war with those who are looking to destroy public education for all.
I was not silent when my local elected officials tried to persuade parents that they were for public education while casting votes that have dire consequences for our schools.I confronted them, hounded them, and continue to do so.
But I am not alone..
All across New York State thousands of teachers, parents, and citizens are doing the same thing. I predict hundreds of thousands of parents will refuse to let their children take New York State’s Common Core tests next week. Parents and teachers have been standing arm in arm with a single voice exclaiming that it is time to stop this madness.
On April 1st, New York State adopted a new budget that failed to fully fund schools. This budget also provided provisions that doubled down on high stakes testing, eroded due process rights, and took aim at the livelihoods of every public school teacher. It also put every public school student smack dab in the middle of a political agenda fueled war.
Parents from across the state have been swarming to their legislators who voted for this budget and are demanding that they fix it. I have never witnessed this much vitriol and outrage at state senators in my lifetime.
Even though, I will be forced to administer these abusive tests this week, I will not be ashamed this year. I am proud of the many students in my class, and across the state that will be refusing to take it. I am proud of the parents who stood up and demanded that we need to end this madness. I am proud of my union sisters and brothers who have tirelessly educated their communities that our nation’s most important assets are under attack.
Yes, the tests will go on this year, but the data will be meaningless. Thanks to the multitudes that have put their shoulders into this battle, the pendulum is beginning to move in the direction we need it to go, ‘excelsior’!
I will not be ashamed this year, I am fired up and ready to win this war.