Opine I will

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

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There is No Dignity in Teaching

I rarely reblog others, but this is a story that must be retold over and over again.

Administrators have forgotten that teachers (and the kids they work with) are in fact human beings and not numbers. Instead of standing up to government officials and defending their teachers, they uphold unfair—and frankly discriminatory— evaluation practices.

Read this…  https://urbanesl.wordpress.com/2018/05/26/there-is-no-dignity-in-teaching/comment-page-1/#comment-77

 

Change or Power Play?

Today the administration decided to shuffle the personnel in our very successful district. Our small K-6 district (New Hyde Park- Garden City Park) has 4 buildings and 145 teachers. I am the local President ( full disclosure).

Take a look at our NYS report card. Even though I am totally against this type of data, the data shows that we are extremely successful.  With this success, one would think that our new Superintendent and our 4 brand new building principals would look towards our successes, collaborate with staff and look to build on them.

Unfortunately, they have chosen to do the exact opposite. They announced a major shake up of most of the teachers here. They changed our grades we will teach, changed rooms and have us even changing buildings They are taking teachers who have spent many years in lower grades and assigning them to upper grades and vice a versa. They have refused to share the rationale for this upheaval.

I am well aware that every year there needs to be some changes, due to enrollment and other needs. Those changes are often rational decisions with some teacher input. Not this year! We have been told nothing except this is your new assignment.

As our Local President, I believe my new assignment in another building is due to my position as President. That will not stand. I have has a successful 19 year career  and I will be damned if they will get away with this.

To make matters worse our new Superintendent  comes to us from a district where she was the director of curriculum. I have been told, by those in charge, that it is unfair to compare her old district’s report card with ours. I disagree,  the truth must be exposed.

When we look at her report card we discover that our scores are 50% higher! When we take a close read of the data and look at the demographic we also discover that our population has many more immigrants and more ELL students.

So what does this show?  It shows that we are successful and we have a right, a duty and a need to sound the alarm! It shows that we need to be wary of change for the sake of change or change because that’s the way she has done it in her old district.

As President of our local. I requested that our local participate in the selection process for a superintendent. We were told no!  So this is the result. We are heading blindly into an abyss.  I feel sorry for the children our hands have been tied.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

Commitment

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.

This is our Sputnik moment.

School’s all across the nation are either starting or about to start a new academic year. It’s suppose to be an exciting time for students and teacher. However, this year may be much, much different.  This has been the summer of Trump. Our students  have been subjected to Trumpism all summer.

Before this weekend’s horrific events in Charlottesville, I was wondering where did we go astray. How could our nation elect someone like Trump? After this weekend, I think I have the answer.

As a teacher, it’s hard for me to admit this. I view this past year as a failure of our education system. As educators we have not fought hard enough to protect our curriculum, our methods, our standards and our public schools.

All too often we  observe teachers dutifully, following directives that they don’t agree with. We observe teachers, following standards that are not research based and often inappropriate for the children they teach.

I have watched  Social Studies lessons being put aside for high stakes testing skills and subjects. I have observed Social Studies standards morph into ‘big ideas’ that often lack correlation with history. For example, teaching about the Articles of Confederation without taking the necessary time to teach the events that led up to them.

Social Studies is being put aside. Now we hear STEM is the new ‘ big idea’. Science Technology Engineering and Math is turning into this year’s new focus. We’ve already witnessed literature, take a back seat to non-fiction in Common Core.  Look at the results, look at society, and ask yourself, “ can we really afford to abandoned the humanities”?

We need to refocus our teaching towards Social Studies. Link your lessons towards teaching history. Not a whitewashed version, but real history. The history of the peoples of the world.

We now have a President that has no understanding of our nation’s past. We have thousands marching in the streets protesting things they do not understand.

This is our Sputnik moment. We need to emulate the counter protesters of this weekend by resisting any attempt to water down our curriculum. We need to stand against those that want us to teach a revisionists version of history.

Forget the damn high stakes tests. It’s time to roll up our collective sleeves and do what we need to do to save our nation. Resist and teach like our future depends on it, because it does.

Trumpkins

The evidence is clear:The Trump campaign met with Russian interests to obtain information to help their campaign. 

Trump’s top advisors omitted information on their security clearance applications.

Trump has close business ties with Russian oligarchs.

Trump and his advisors lied and continues to lie about their ties with Russians.

Trump still has not released any tax records.

Trump has isolated our country with the rest of the world.

Trump clearly deflected the issues by blaming the press instead of answering to the American people.
So why do Trumpkins continue to believe him? 
To answer that question, look at history. Why did followers of the most hideous leaders of the past follow them? 
Answer.. it’s easier to follow someone that validates your thoughts, instead of questioning your own beliefs. Perhaps it’s not Trump that is the problem. Perhaps it’s our culture. Perhaps our culture has created a group of blinded followers that have taken the easy way. Become a Trumkin because it validates my views of society. 
It’s much easier to follow a cause that validates your views rather than question your own views. 
This mindset takes years to develop. I believe it began with Newt Gingrich during the Clinton years. That is when the great political divide morphed into virus that could destroy our country. That is when modern day politics turned into partisan blocking and obstruction. That is when the battle to influence your views began.
And here we are today. 

Trumpkins are blinded. They remain silent when Trump embraces our enemy. They blame others for Trump’s behaviors. Their hate for liberals eclipses their common sense.
Trumpkins are supporting the destruction of the ACA even when they have no idea how it will effect them. They support their fellow Right Wing elected officials who refuse to hold hearings and discuss their plan. 
People, our nation is at the cusp. Do we follow the fears a the ultra Right, or do we toss away the hate and truly become the shining light upon the hill? 
Trumpkins, the ball may be on your side of the court, will you clear the net or will you flub it?

Anger doesn’t describe it

New York State assessments conclude today. Half of my fifth grade students will have sat through over 9 hours of abusive assessments while the other half opted out and today is the worse day of all. Today’s math test includes overly complicated questions that most of our members of Congress would flub. They are multi-step atrocities that are designed to confuse and befuddle.  I am prohibited to post any of the questions until a select few are released to the public. I am pretty positive the hardest questions will never see sunshine.

Here is a general  idea of what one of these questions looks like.

A factory produces 4,861 items in 30 day. They then package them in crates hold 8 each. These crates are delivered to 26 distributers daily. How many are delivered each week to each distributer?

Ten year old children must be able to answer this question correctly, otherwise their teacher may be labeled ineffective.

Now here is the rub…

The New York State Department of Education issued the following  statement in a press release this week.

 Commissioner Elia said. “With substantive changes and increased guidance for educators, teachers will be able to develop curricula and lesson plans to meet the needs of students in their classrooms. “

The key words here are substantial changes.  That is admission that the standards that today’s tests are designed around are faulty.  Why subject children to 9 hours of abusive testing based on standards that require substantial changes? A warped political agenda is being driven right smack dab at the children on New York.

Anger doesn’t describe my feelings. Our society is being driven over a cliff by an extreme ideology that will destroy our nation. When we look the other way when children are being forced to fulfill an agenda, when we allow school children to go hungry, when we refuse to provide health care, when we demonize a segment of our population, we are heading for a fall.

Resist.

We enter the darkest days of education.

Today we have entered into one of the darkest days in education. In New York State the abusive Common Core tests get underway.  Our students, some as young as 8 years old will begin the grueling process of reading passage after passage and answering an unforgiving array of multiple choice and essay questions. These children will sit for at least 9 hours to fulfill a political ideology that has nothing to do with educating the child.

With these ‘new” untimed tests, some children could potentially sit for 6 hours on each of the 6 testing dates. Their only break will be a sequestered supervised lunch break where they will be monitored to ensure they do not discuss the test with their fellow students.

Our children will struggle with questions that have more than 1 plausible answer. They will have to select the best plausible answer. Questions will ask them , for example, to analyze paragraphs 3, 14 , 24 & 26  and then choose the answer that best describes their relationship. They will be forbidden to give their opinion in an essay as they regurgitate details to fulfill the task at hand.

When we look at past tests, we can almost guarantee some passages will be purposely confusing due to the use of names and customs they are not familiar with. This makes it extremely difficult for them to  utilize their own schema to decode the information provided. Some passages are above grade level and there are also  field questions that are not counted are part of these tests.

Teachers must sit by as our students struggle for hours. We will observed children get physically and emotionally ill taking these tests. We are forbidden to assist or even discuss the tests.

Students who refuse the test must sit in the same room with those taking the test. They are expected to sit quietly and read for at least 90 minutes. Have you ever tried that? How do they expect 8-12 year old kids to do that?

Folk, this is institutional child abuse! I have written about this and about how this is the time of year that I am ashamed to be a teacher.  We all should be ashamed, when we make these children take these tests to fulfill a political agenda and provide absolutely no valid  data that helps children excel.

Get over it? No freaking way!

We have  been told over and over again  “get over it!”   I won’t get over it, I won’t sit back quietly, I won’t stand idle while our country is in trouble.

How can we stand by when our illegitimate Commander in Chief puts our nation’s standing in the world at risk every day? On Thursday, his  Ambassador to the United Nations told the world representatives at the UN that she will be taking names.  Our national security is at risk due to his traitorous  appointment to protect our nation. His continued attack of the press corp threatens the very fabric of our national identity. His appointments to his cabinet are direct attacks on our environment, workers’ rights, regulatory protections, our judicial system, and many of our God given human rights. Even his latest selection to be our National Security Adviser turned down the important job. It’s reported that he refused because, as he put it, this administration is a real “shit sandwich.”

Trumps response to these concerns consists of lies, repeated lies of his election, attacking the questioner, and holding rallies. Folks, when asked about the uptick of antisemitism and the growing violence to Jews, he responded by telling the reported to sit down.  When questioned by a black reporter if he is willing to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss violence in the inner cities, he acted as if he didn’t know what the CBC was then asked the reporter to set up the meeting with her friends.Trump is mentally ill!

His appointment of Betsey DeVos should raise alarms across the nation. Do Trumpkins really want children with special needs to go without needed services? Do they really believe evolution is made up science fiction? Do they really believe schools should be privately owned ventures that are funded with taxpayer monies and that these schools should not be held accountable for these funds or the success of their programs?

Do Trumpkins really believe that 100’s of thousands of National Guard troops should go door to door, school to school, office to office, hospital to hospital as a deportation force? Are we ready to hid our neighbors in our attics, hidden rooms, barns, and basements? Is that what we are about to become?

Are Trumpkins prepared to live in a nation, where there will be no protections on the job site, where basic employee rights will be stripped, or where they will not be able to negotiate a collective bargained agreement that would protect the company as well as the employee. Are they prepared to return to the workplaces of the late 1800’s where they have no choice but to owe the company store?

Are Trumpkins prepared to watch people die due to the lack of healthcare? Will they be willing to return to the era of only those with money get treated and watch others suffer or  die? Is this making America great?

Folks I will not get over it!  Trump and Pence needs to be impeached. I am not willing to sit back and watch this egomaniac systematically destroy our country. I won’t sit in the corner, I won’t sit quietly, I refuse to accept this blatant attack on our national conscience.

Join me at rallies, join me at organization meetings, join me making calls, join me on social media. Don’t get over it.. get organized. Resist!

 

 

 

 

We are becoming the America I know, not the America I want!

We are becoming the America I know, not the America I want.

The America I know is a nation with a checkered past. Yes, we are the greatest nation on the face of the earth! Yes, I love our nation and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our guiding principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As true Americans and true patriots we must always strive to make our great nation a place where those guiding principles apply to all.  Unfortunately, the America I know has not been that place.

We should be drawing on our checkered past to protect and practice those guiding principles not bastardize them. Our Founders knew we had flaws and they knew our nation would be facing challenges that would threaten our guiding principles. They created our guiding document, The Constitution, that would ensure our nation would always be governed with those guiding principles. They knew times would change and the Constitution should be a “living document’ that would be amended and changed as needed to ensure the maintenance of our nation’s guiding principles

Unfortunately, we now have a nation that is deeply divided and is at a very dangerous ‘fork in the road”. Will we go down the road towards the America we all know, or towards the America we want?

Will we return down the road of racism, ignorance and fear? I fear President Trump and his supporters are driving us down the road towards the America we know, not the America we should be.

Within a week of taking office we have seen a return towards  taking Native American sacred lands. We have seen an “America First” policy that has closed our welcoming door that repeats our pre WWII actions. We have seen an executive order that has institutionalized discrimination based on religion, much like the Puritans did. We are seeing a return to the Gilded Age where corruption and greed overshadowed the needs of the masses. We are seeing Trump’s Cabinet shaping into a group that will try to shut down the press, create an enemies list, seek retribution for those who dare disagree, funnel public revenues to their own, and destroy the concept of public education for all.  Their early actions and statements have  signaled that they will be changing our guiding principles, much like Andrew Jackson did, when he ignored a Supreme Court ruling and murdered thousands of Native Americans.

We cannot escape our past. We need to confront it and learn from it, not repeat it. The America I know is far from perfect. Let’s go down the road that draws upon our past successes. The Road that embraces the “wretched refuse to our teeming shore.” Let’s go down the road that leads to our guiding principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all. No matter who you are, what you are, or what you worship or not.  That’s the road we should be on, not the road towards our dark past with the toll gate controlled by the gilded class.

The way to get on the right road is to resist. Resist every attempt to go down that toll road towards our dark past. Hold your elected representatives accountable. Protest, call, write, run for office. Do whatever you need to do. Do not let them drag us down that dark road. Resist, resist, resist.

A Nation in Distress

distress-flag

I love our nation, I say the Pledge every day with my class and yes, we do say “One nation under God!”  I respect the lives lost defending our national symbol that represents the dreams and aspirations of our forefathers. I would never wear a flag, burn a flag or otherwise desecrate it. I am the son of a veteran and I am fully aware of the controversy surrounding those who would use the flag as a symbol protest.

So why then am I displaying an upside-down flag? Flying our flag upside down is not disrespectful if it is being used as signal of distress. Our nation is in a state of distress and it is about to be destroyed from within if we do not wake up as a nation. My upside-down flag signals that we are facing pain. I fear pain that we have never seen before. I am frightened. Frightened foremost for my children and grandchildren, as well as everyone else.

The election of Donald J. Trump happened because our country is in distress. Ultra- alt-right Tea Party types have brainwashed the masses (even though more people rejected Trump at the polls) into believing our country is no longer great. Our news outlets gave free reign to give un-American rallies air time and our radio airways have been taken over by propogandists spewing hatred.  Social media has been a breeding ground for false news, hatred, racism and worse. Congress has hijacked our Constitution and effectively stole the right of President Obama to appoint a member to the Supreme Court.

A huge segment of our population has been brainwashed into believing that America needs to be great again and that our national identity has been hijacked by ‘undesirables’. The result is Donald J. Trump! You may disagree with my analysis of our situation, and that is your right. However, you need to understand what is about to happen.

Trump is putting together a cabinet of individuals that pose a huge threat to our way of life. His potential Supreme Court nominee or nominees will lead our nation down a dangerous path.

Looking at Trump’s cabinet we see a crew should frighten us all.  Trump’s ties to Russia are emerging as he is considering appointing a Secretary of State that will ease sanctions so he can close his ExxonMobile deal with Putin. He has chosen a Secretary of Education who has actively worked to destroy public education. His choice for Homeland Security is a General. What’s next, martial law?

Trump’s cabinet will include an EPA Secretary who disputes climate change and wants to roll back regulations that protect our climate, and the very air we breathe. His choice for the SBA comes from his pals at the WWE! What’s next, death cage matches on the Mall?

It gets worse, he wants a General with the Nickname “ Mad Dog” to lead our Department of defense and a certifiable lunatic who got booted from the NSA as his top security adviser.  His top pick for HUD is psychotic according to Trump himself.  Even if we  survive this cabinet of fools, the middle class will not survive his Supreme Court.

Labor will be in distress. Workers across our country are about to be economically slaughtered. Trump’s first salvo was his attack on the United Steel Workers this week. Trump paved the way for Carrier to move hundreds of jobs under the guise that they are saving jobs. When called out on his lies, we saw Trump’s true agenda. He told them they needed to work harder and implied that they should accept a salary cut that would take them below the minimum wage.

Be prepared for a bloodletting on the labor front. First on his agenda will be a National Right to Work Law that will target every private sector union in the nation. Anti-Labor National Labor Relation Board appointments will make it impossible to correct unfair practices in the workplace. A SCOTUS decision that will allow ‘free riders’ to benefit from union bargaining and protection. Even those ‘free riders’ will lose the benefits of collective bargaining when it is banned (see Wisconsin). SCOTUS will rule that public school budgets can be raided to fund private and religious schools. Hedge fund controlled Charter Schools will eventually finish off our public-school system, Trump’s push for privatization will take a death grip across every public service sector across the nation. Teacher’s across the nation will watch their tenure and seniority rights get stripped away and students will be at the mercy of the power-brokers.

Our social safety net will be ripped apart as public service worker’s pensions will be stripped bare. Medicare and Medicaid may be destroyed. Healthcare for all may be a thing of the past. Our most vulnerable will be labeled as burdens and interlopers.

Our Country is in distress. Head the distress signal. Resist!

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