Opine I will

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

Priorities?? Kids or Institution?

It’s been a while since I have posted anything on here. I’ve been using Twitter or Facebook as a way to get my thoughts out there. It’s no secret  that I am firmly against New York State’s testing policies. Today’s incident clearly pointed out to me that some administrators have their priorities in the wrong place.

We are beginning to witness the  pendulum starting to swing towards an end of the institutional abuse of our students. Both of New York State’s legislative branches have new Bills awaiting a vote that will make it illegal to use any state test to evaluate teachers. That’s a huge swing in our direction.

Opt outs must continue regardless of these Bills. The tests need to be eliminated all together. These new Bills will still allow some sort of test ( to be negotiated locally from a pre- approved list) to be used as an evaluation tool. We must continue to work to eliminate any test that is used to evaluate teachers, schools or principals. Test should be used only to inform our instruction! Nothing more!

Priorities?? Kids or Institution?

Our #1 priority should be the well being of the children we teach. Unfortunately, many administrators, including some of  new ones in my own district have a distorted view that our #1 priority should be the institution.

Today I was summoned into our superintendent’s office to discuss a possible disciplinary action . Upon arrival I was asked if I sent out a Tweet on April 12th during the state test. I willing admitted that I sent out the following tweet.tweet

I  learned at this meeting that another principal in my district took issue with me doing this and informed our superintendent. I was also informed that the superintendent contacted the State to see if  charges would be brought up because I used my ‘personal device’ during the test.

I was also told that the name of my accuser would be kept from me. I asked for the opportunity to speak with said principal so that I could explain why I took the video. That request was denied.

An open letter to the principal who chose the Institution over the kids.

Dear principal who chose to remain anonymous,

Every year I watch my students struggle with abusive assessments that provide me, as their teacher, with useless data. Every year the test is administered in the Spring just as allergy season  is in full swing. Every year my students must suffer through this test while leaf blowers, jets, garbage trucks and traffic create an annoying din that makes concentration difficult, especially with those of my students with ADHD, severe allergies and other issues that affect their learning. And yes, every year my students perform better than the state, region and often lead the district.

You cowardly chose  to  attack a teacher who was documenting the noise pollution that affected every child in our school rather than solve the problem of noise pollution or even solve the problem of these abusive tests. 

Your priorities are skewed. You may post tons of smiling faces on your own Twitter account but the truth is out there. Today, you chose the institution over those smiling faces. Shame on you.

Yes, I may have broken test protocol , but you broke something even more important. Your failure to approach me personally goes to character. Your failure to choose kids over institution goes to character. 

You got your teaspoon of flesh. I was reprimanded and told not to do it again. Tomorrow is test day #3. I will always choose kids over institution. The question is, what will you do?


No charges are being brought against me.

I am still committed to ending test abuse. I am committed to the opt out movement. I am committed to the success of my students.

I am 63 years young. I have almost died twice. I have been working in one form or another for 50 years. I have always stood up for what I believed and I have never let a bully get their way, not even a principal.

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9 thoughts on “Priorities?? Kids or Institution?

  1. Keep up the fight Ralph !!

  2. Ken Poppers on said:

    Don’t back down.

  3. Pingback: Ralph Ratto: Choosing Between My Students and the Institution | Diane Ravitch's blog

  4. stiegem on said:

    I admire you immensely, Ralph. Although I am extremely anti-war, you are one of “The Good Soldiers” who know the right way to fight – for the right reasons. Onward Soldier! We are with you.

  5. Valerie Lucas on said:

    Well said Ralph. More people should stand up for what they know is right.

  6. J. Bayer on said:

    Well said rratto! Way to stand strong.

  7. As I sat here reading your blog, I was shaking. I thought about two years ago in my 5th grade classroom watching the kids take the disgusting NY State Tests. When reading this I felt like I could vomit. I went through a great deal of what you did, however I did not use an electronic device during any test. I was being constantly watched as I spoke to fellow colleagues who in the end of my time there, felt the principal was definitely on a witch hunt for me. She even had her groupies watching what I said and did. Me, a veteran teacher. Yet every chance I had outside of school I would shout out how wrong NYSED was in this testing regime. I continue doing so. Once the superintendent sent me a text saying he had the school lawyer watching what I said at public events and was going to see what he said about it. They could do nothing, except make my days of teaching hell. I have kept it all inside of me, and can tell you they convinced me with a settlement I couldn’t pass up to retire. Little did they know what good they did for me, as I can strongly speak out even more today.

    I watch Commissioner Elia smirking as she “listens” to NYSUT members say they didn’t care about themselves, they cared about the kids, yet she had no answers. I have watched her talk to different groups, saying something she thinks they want to hear. I have heard the lies administration gives to you and witnessed the rewards to children who took the tests and helped parents provide ice cream to all students the next day. I have walked the walk as you have, yet now I sit here and miss so much the children I once taught. Yes, I am substituting in a different district. Yes, I am lucky to do so and love all kids, no matter where I live, but when something like this happens to you, you still feel a somewhat emptiness of what was lost and the sadness I feel for my students whose children now attend the same dictatorship of a school setting. I too, will always speak out. For as you said, this bill is for the teachers. What about our kids? I believe state ed and the board of regents owes them an apology. The last almost decade has filled their heads with how to take a test. Thank goodness for the opt out groups and teachers such as you. I hope all get even stronger after this last fiasco with testing. Stay strong and always, always be there for our kids!

    • Thank you for your kind words. I was asked today why I would do such a thing. Why would I put myself out there like I do? I explained I do it because it is the right thing to do. I will not sit idly by when I see getting abused by the NYSED.

  8. You sound like an Amazing Teacher and man! I wish my son had you as a teacher!

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