This is my last week of summer vacation. It used to be a time of pure excited anticipation of a brand new school year. It used to be a great time of year. But all that has changed.
Today, I prepare for another year.
My year will start with the grand presentation of new teacher ratings based on last year’s tests. What will our ratings be? Are we highly effective or ineffective? Did last year’s students score well or not? If they didn’t do well, I won’t ever find out which questions they got wrong.
As our Teacher Association President, will I be able to help any of my colleagues that may be at risk due to these tests? How do we appeal results based on questions we cannot even review? Is this mysterious data based on a value added method even valid?
Last year, we informed parents that our Association supported a parent’s decision to opt out. Our district had about 26% of our students opt out. Did this skew the data? I think so. I also think it should invalidate the data.
Our new NY Education Commissioner, Mary Elia, said last week that teachers were unethical for supporting the Opt Out movement. I question her ethics. Her unethical rant last week, condemning a parent’s right to avoid inappropriate and abusive testing for their children warrants her immediate removal.
So as I prepare for the coming year, I will be thinking about our new Commissioner. I will be meeting with my colleagues to discuss how we should defensively negotiate a new evaluation plan imposed on us, even though our collective bargaining rights were slashed when it comes to our evaluation plan.
I will be discussing how we must be ready for a possible devastating decision by the Supreme Court. I will be discussing how to make our association stronger and how we must strengthen our partnership with parents and other community members.
I will be discussing how there are Presidential candidates who want to punch us in the face, close our faculty rooms to keep us from each other, take away our pensions, sell our schools and destroy our unions.
I will be also discussing how we will navigate with or around yet another Language Arts and Math curriculum supposedly aligned with the Common Core that is geared towards even more tests.
And somehow, I will be ready to meet these challenges and provide what is needed for every single one of my students, which is best done by closing my classroom door ignoring the distractors and doing what I know best, teach!